Updated: Dec 17, 2022
(Robin on garden fork © Andrew Howe/Getty)
This current cold snap may soon be over, with temperatures set to rise well above zero this weekend, but remember winter has barely begun, so it is a fair bet that we will see further frosts and freezing temperatures over the coming months. Our gardens may look beautiful first thing in the morning, or after a fresh snowfall, but for wildlife, it can be a time of scarce food, harsh temperatures and a fight to survive.
Here we summarise an article in BBC Wildlife Magazine, based on advice by the RSCPA on how to look after the creatures that visit your garden in winter.
If you are in the Turrill at any point during these cold spells do see if you can gently melt the ice on the bronze bird table we have there (Maybe a hot coffee stood there for a short while?)This is a permanent part of the garden which we and the birds can enjoy throughout the year. There is also a beautiful frost-proof ceramic bird table by Sally Dorrity - also available for sale for enjoying in your own garden. But Sally advises that we keep it free of water when icy weather is setting in, as even frost-proof items can be damaged by the expansion of ice in the bowl. (Maybe replace the top bowl with a plastic one for a very short period to help the birds?)
1. Let your garden go wild. Delay the task of tidying borders and shrubs until early Spring, allowing animals to hide, rest or hibernate under those piles of leaves and brushwood.
2. Break the ice. Toxic gases can build up in frozen ponds, which can kill fish or frogs that are hibernating there. So, carefully break the ice with a pan of hot water placed on the surface. Don’t use force or pour boiling water on the ice.
3. Feed the birds. Provide a range of seeds, fresh unsalted peanuts and table scraps, such as cheese, apples and pears.
4. Provide fresh water. Leave it out in a shallow bowl each night, and change it every day.
5. Attract garden visitors with good food. Small amounts of appropriate food will help the mammals that visit.
For foxes – cheese, boiled potatoes, chicken carcasses, bread and fat scraps.
For squirrels – nuts, chopped apple, beans, carrots or spinach
For badgers – lightly cooked meats, cheese, peanuts or fruit
For hedgehogs - Minced meat, fresh liver, tinned dog food (not fish based), or even scrambled eggs
Read the full article here 5 ways you can help wildlife this winter | BBC Wildlife Magazine | Discover Wildlife