Like a number of other countries, Britain is currently sweltering in the midst of a heatwave. It’s hard enough for humans to cope in the hot weather (personally, I hate it – when it’s freezing cold you can always put another jumper on, but in this heat you can’t take your skin off!), but imagine what it must be like for our wildlife, which has already been battered by the strange weather we’ve been having so far this year.
Fortunately, anyone can help keep an eye on our wildlife during this heatwave – and here’s some simple and really good advice on how to do just that from Val Osborne, who is the head of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds’ wildlife enquiries team:
While we all revel in an unusually sunny summer, our garden wildlife might not be having such a good time. The hot weather could be causing natural water sources to dry up, meaning birds and hedgehogs could be left without anything to drink.
Turning your outside space into a home for nature by doing simple things like topping up your birdbath, creating a make-shift pond from a washing-up tub or putting down a saucer filled with water could offer a vital lifeline to some of our garden favourites that are already fighting against declines.
Some critters are going to need extra food too, as Osborne also notes:
When it’s particularly dry, worms tunnel right down into the soil, meaning they become out of reach to the wildlife that usually feasts on them, such as blackbirds, robins, hedgehogs and frogs.
If the hot, dry conditions carry on we may see wild plants start to die, meaning bees and butterflies will find it hard. If that happens, our gardens and the well-watered plants in them will become even more important to these insects.
You can find some more good advice on looking after wildlife in hot weather here.
Plus, if you have pets, there’s some great info from the Battersea Cats & Dogs Home on keeping them safe during a heatwave here.
Oh, and if you’re out and about, you can bring me back an ice lolly please!
Stay safe and stay cool…
After a strangely warm autumn, winter is seriously kicking in now, with snow and winds of 100mph and more in some parts of the UK during the last week – and this stormy weather looks set to continue. It’s getting bitingly cold for us humans, but can you imagine what this weather is like for wildlife; especially for the birds in your garden?
Birds can really suffer in such severely cold conditions, particularly young adults and the old or sick. They all need food with a high fat content to help them stay warm in their roosts during the cold winter nights, and if they can’t find enough suitable wild food, they simply won’t survive.
Which is where you come in. As the colder weather begins to bite, putting some food out for the birds in your garden could help them get through the icy winter by supplementing their meagre wild diet at this time of the year – and hopefully give them a better chance of breeding come next spring.
Feeding the birds in your garden (or even on your balcony) is also an immensely rewarding process. It’s fascinating to watch as various types of birds visit your feeder or bird table – in my mum’s small suburban back garden, for example, just one bird feeder brings in more than half a dozen different species, including a very cheeky, very territorial robin who acts like he owns the place!
This week, we’ve had a few beautiful, glorious sunny days in this corner of west London. In fact, it has been so lovely at times that you might have been forgiven for thinking that spring had finally arrived to relieve this seemingly never-ending and freezing cold northern hemisphere winter we’ve been shivering through. But you’d be wrong.
Despite the fact that spring actually officially begins this coming weekend with the vernal equinox, there appears to be little sign of it in the nation’s parks and gardens yet. I’ve seen plenty of pretty purple crocuses and a few cheerful yellow daffodils in neighbouring gardens, but even the usually early flowering magnolia trees in my area are only just beginning to bud, and most of the other local trees appear to be as bare as they were in January.
The situation seems to be the same across the country, with the Woodland Trust recently estimating that signs of the British spring are anything up to a month late in emerging this year – and they’d know, they have records tracking the start of spring that date back to the 1600s.
Those of you who have followed this blog across the internet from its old home may well be aware of my slight obsession with the green parakeets that live wild in large flocks across parts of London and south east England. Not everyone does, but I absolutely love them – for their noisy, colourful, unmissable cheerfulness in this grey and often miserable city. They make me smile.
I was first told of their presence in London about ten years ago, and my initial reaction was one of complete disbelief until I saw a small flock of them noisily squawking their way over my parents’ back garden one summer afternoon. I was then intrigued enough to do a little research on these colourful birds, and soon realised that, for them, living in London must be the equivalent of a tropical holiday in comparison to their native environment. It may surprise some that these birds, whose natural home is among the foothills of the Himalayas, happily thrive in such an urban environment as London, but they do – and to such an extent that there is now talk of a cull to reduce their numbers, despite the fact that they are, at present, protected by law.
For those who have not yet encountered these brightly-coloured and noisy birds, you probably soon will; particularly if you live in south east England – it is estimated that there are currently 30,000 of these Ring-necked (or Rose-ringed) parakeets living wild across south-west London, Surrey, Sussex and Kent, and the RSPB further estimates that their numbers will increase to at least 50,000 by next year.