Gardening for wildlife
The amount of wildlife you can see without leaving the house is quite amazing and I don’t just mean the spiders that inhabit every corner of my office. It obviously helps that my home happens to be on the League’s Baronsdown wildlife sanctuary, but the same could apply to anywhere where wildlife is welcomed.
The bird feeders outside my kitchen window are a frenzy of activity throughout the daylight hours as blue tits, great tits, siskins and greater-spotted woodpeckers compete with grey squirrels for sunflower hearts and peanuts. On the ground below more squirrels jostle with pheasants, chaffinch and robins for the morsels that drop. Whilst in the shrubbery the successful combatants sit pecking furiously at their spoils before entering the fray again.
Occasionally a bank vole dashes out from the undergrowth to grab a fallen seed before racing back into cover. I was surprised to see a vole even sitting about 1.5 metres up the honeysuckle boldly chewing on a leaf in the middle of the day. A young brown rat has also learned that there are easy pickings to be had beneath the bushes with a little bit of patience and it has been joined in the free feast by the resident dunnock.
We get some unusual visitors to the garden too. A Lady Amherst’s pheasant has been a regular in the tussle below the bird feeders for the past few months, presumably an escapee from a private collection. Hummingbird hawkmoths are becoming more frequent in summer, zipping from flower to flower in a frenetic whirl. One had a very lucky escape as a blue tit made a lunge for it as it fed on honeysuckle flowers outside my window.
In the evening, red deer and rabbits have been taking advantage of the long grass on the front lawn, as grass elsewhere is in short supply due to the dry weather. As night falls we are serenaded by the hooting of tawny owls and trail cameras set in the garden reveal foxes and hedgehogs, maybe some of the hedgehogs we released last year, pay us a visit as well.
Why travel long distances to see wildlife when you can have a marvellous wildlife experience on your doorstep.