November, 2012

Wildlife

Wildlife
We're about more than just birds (though obviously we like them a lot).

Wildlife Enquiries

'Good morning, Wildlife Enquiries...' We take hundreds of calls and e-mails every day. Find out what everyone's asking this week
  • Last chance!

    The Law Commission consultation closes today (30 November 2012).

    Ten minutes of your time could help save wildlife in the UK, every comment counts in this rare opportunity to influence the laws that should protect our wildlife.

    Want to help? Have a look at our laws for wildlife page on the link below.

    http://www.rspb.org.uk/supporting/campaigns/campaignwithus/current/betterwildlifelaws.aspx

    There’s three steps to it –

    1 – Say why you think it is important to have laws that protect our wildlife (be as general or specific as you like – I used the plight of the hen harrier in England as an example)

    2 – Explain what you would like to see change in the law (you can use our suggestions in the above link such as increased penalties but feel free to add your own)

    3 – Send the email to - wildlife@lawcommission.gsi.gov.uk

    Thank you for your time!

  • Now where do I put it?

    I am of course talking about nesting boxes! Putting up nesting boxes in gardens at this time of the year has got to be one of the best ways to help give our feathered friends a great chance of finding a top spot for raising the next generation when the spring arrives. In this blog i'll talk about boxes with small entrance holes.

    Your standard small nesting box with a 32 mm entrance hole is potentially a nest site for house sparrows, great tits, blue tits and possibly coal tits in gardens, also pied flycatchers if you are in the right areas with the right habitat. You can limit the variety of species that can use the box by fitting a nesting plate over the hole, blue tits can squeeze into a 25 mm opening, but 32 mm is usually a good size hole that can attract a range of species in a garden. In order for these species to feel safe enough to nest, the box needs to be positioned somewhere open, so they can check the coast is clear, relatively disturbance free and ideally at or above two metres high. House sparrows are a little bit more sensitive than the tits so go higher for them if you can whilst some tits will nest much lower but would be more vulnerable to ground predators as a result.

    Some good examples of tit nesting locations are tree trunks, fenceposts, shed, garage and house walls. Always choose somewhere that has open access to and from the hole but some cover nearby to disguise their approach and exit from the nest. In order to prevent the young inside getting cooked during hot weather, try to avoid walls or the side of trunks that face south, north or west are usually fine. House sparrows seem to prefer their boxes being located up under the eaves in loose colonies, two or three on the same wall a few feet apart could be the start of a nice little colony. If you cannot get up to the eaves, have a look on your house to see if any window ledges offer an over hang, as long as they are above two metres there is a chance that sparrows will have a look.

    Remember, these boxes don't need a perch under the hole, these birds can cling quite easily to the hole itself. You might see them pay a visit to check it out over winter, they may even use it to roost but for most of us it takes a while for the box to be accepted so prepare to be patient!

     Any questions, add them using the comment box below!!!

     

  • Welcome your winter visitors

    With the weather feeling properly wintry and signs that this year we have a number of unusual extra winter visitors taking refuge in the UK, it's time for a quick recap on who they are and what you can do to help them in your garden.

    Waxwings - They are here in good numbers already, likely to be the result of a poor berry crop in Scandinavia. Whilst berries are going to be their main staple diet during their stay here, soft fruit will also be taken readily. You might not be able to tempt them to take it from the end of a stick whilst being held like some lucky folk on the Shetlands but putting apple and pear halves on sticks or strings in your garden might be worth a try. If you don't get waxwings at least the local thrush and starling populations will get a treat!

      Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)

    Brambling - With talk of a beech mast failure these smart finches have already arrived in good numbers along with migrant greenfinches and chaffinches. Bramblings will visit hanging and tray feeders and will take most of the seeds present in good quality mixes, especially those with sunflower hearts.

    Jays - Due to the lack of acorns, jays face a major dilemma finding food this winter, our resident population has also been joined by many from an irruption from Scandinavia where the same shortage of food has occurred. They are going to be on the look out for nuts wherever they can get them so popping a few loose unsalted peanuts and bird seed on a tray in the garden could entice these usually elusive birds to pay a visit.

    Redwings/fieldfares - These winter thrushes arrive every year in varying numbers and account for a large proportion of the berry crop. They also take soft fruit and invertebrates when the weather allows. The same trick for waxwings might work for them but they may also venture onto a ground tray to take soft fruit or other foods.

    Other food to try this winter to give our birds the best chance of making it through include cereals, biscuits (without dessicated coconut), cooked rice (don't add salt!), raisins and sultanas (keep away from dogs, they can have a bad reaction), mild grated cheddar cheese and homemade fat blocks. If you've got a berry hedge or a fruiting tree, don't cut it until they've been eaten and try not to use all the fruit, leave some for the birds.

    If you are lucky enough to see any of these birds or other interesting species in your garden don't forget to report them via Birdtrack.