Winter can be a hard time for wildlife due to cold temperatures and limited food but there are plenty of ways you can help make the months more manageable by getting outside into your back garden or in the local community.
Nicola Cunningham, an RSPCA wildlife expert said:
“We can all struggle when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and our wildlife friends are often the most vulnerable. They just need a bit of a helping hand sometimes.”
Here are some steps you can take to help maintain numbers and encourage wildlife to your local area.
Roadside Nature Reserves
Kent Wildlife Trust has recently opened a new Roadside Nature Reserve in Tonbridge which is appealing for volunteers to help out on a monthly basis.
There are over 150 Roadside Nature Reserves but without volunteers these sites cannot be maintained and therefore the wildlife will struggle, particularly over winter. Sites looking for help at the moment are in Dover, Swale and Medway.
In The Garden
Now is a great time to put up a birdhouse on your shed or a tree in the garden. Jamie Wyver from the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) said:
“Putting up a nestbox in your garden will provide benefits to birds all year round. During the winter months its great cover and warmth provide birds with the ideal roosting spot, while in the spring and summer it will be the safe place for garden birds to raise their young.”
An easy step that can help the birds is to make sure ponds and birdbaths are unfrozen when there has been frost to ensure there is drinking water available. A tip to make sure your water never freezes is to float a small ball, such as a ping-pong ball, on the surface of the water. Even the lightest breeze will keep it moving and stop an area of the water freezing.
Adding a bird feeder to your garden can be very beneficial throughout the year, especially in winter when food is limited. Treats like mixed seed, nyjer seed, fat balls, sunflower seeds and good-quality peanuts are great out in the garden, whether or not you have a bird feeder. Kitchen scraps like mid grated cheese, cooked rice and porridge oats will also be a nice food for the birds.
If you have more time to help the wildlife in your garden it would be a good opportunity to build a house for hedgehogs, dormice or birds. Hedgehog numbers have dropped from over 30 million in the 1950s to only one million in 2013. By providing a home to hibernate in and some food in the spring, the animals have a higher chance of a healthy year.
Watch these how to videos to find out: