Top 5 tips for a harmonious garden
1. Give your cat a bellCats’ natural hunting instincts mean they can be a bit of a threat to garden birds. If you have a pet cat then make sure it wears a collar with a bell attached so birds get an early warning when there’s a predator about.
2. Plants, plants, plantsA good rule of thumb is that the more plants you grow, the better it is for wildlife, which is a great excuse to get out there and fill your garden with greenery. Grow flowers in amongst your vegetables, climbers up the walls, and in pots on your patio.
3. Cut out the chemicalsWhere possible, avoid using chemicals to kill creepy crawlies or weeds. Pesticides can knock vital layers out of the food chain, when there are often much more constructive ways of working with nature to sustain a healthy garden.
4. Store up your water for (the opposite of) a rainy dayWith all the rain we’ve had lately it may seem odd to suggest storing it up to water your plants with, but only a few months ago many of us were in a drought. Water butts are very environmentally friendly because they collect and store rain water, allowing you to recycle it and give your plants a good drink at the same time.
5. Let hedges be for few more monthsThe main breeding period for garden birds is between 1 March and the end of August, so it's best to avoid cutting trees or hedges during this time so as not to disturb any nests. Conifers can provide nesting sites for a variety of species at this time including blackbirds, robins, greenfinch, goldcrest and even larger birds such as sparrowhawks and crows, so real care needs to be taken during any cutting.
On Wednesday we had some new under 5's join our regular 'Little Owls' sessions. They all had a fantastic morning, making leaf crowns, building dens and playing woodland games. Out 'Little Owls' meet on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month, the sessions run 10 am - midday, you don't have to book, just come along and join in the fun. Cost £3.50 per child with £1 discount for RSPB members.
Highlight of the last few weeks has been up to two Little Gulls, which were seen for several days over on West Canvey Marsh. Also over on West Canvey have been singing Corn Buntings, their song is a metallic sound which some say sounds like jangling keys. Another good place to visit at the moment is the hide in Wat Tyler overlooking Pitsea Scrape, where our Avocet chicks have started to hatch and can be seen feeding with their parents, very cute! Also look out for Common Terns which are great to watch flying around the scrape. While in Wat Tyler, why not pop along to our Visitor Centre, in the aquarium at the moment are some Silver diving beetle larvae which are very impressive to see.
The image above taken at West Canvey by Paul Rowe, shows perfectly the size difference between little and black-headed gull.
Silver diving beetle larva, an impressive beastie taken by Neil Phillips