Christmas countdown #7 – support our garden wildlife

Staying connected to nature and learning about garden wildlife is becoming increasingly important both for nature itself and also for our wellbeing. Natural habitats are slowly dying away with an increase in property developments and also the current trend for grassed garden spaces being replaced with more manageable patios and hardcore.

The British Trust for Ornithology says that gardens are really important habitats for wildlife, but we need to understand how and why populations of garden birds and other wildlife are changing, and how we can help them. The Trust has run a year-round Garden Bird Watch scheme for the last 15 years and thousands of people in the UK contribute their sightings each week. The more we can understand about how birds and animals use our gardens, the more we can improve our cities, towns, villages and individual gardens for wildlife.

In the countryside, the RSPB says that there has been a serious, countrywide, decline, albeit gradual, in the numbers of many birds, including many well known and loved species such as the song thrush, skylark, lapwing and house sparrow. Most of the declining species are farmland birds whilst the majority of woodland species such as the blue tit, nuthatch and great spotted woodpecker, they say, are still doing well. The charity is concerned that declines may have also started in woodland habitats, with lesser spotted woodpecker and willow tit now red-listed because of their severe declines. Changes in agricultural practices have had a devastating effect on farmland birds due to hedgerows being dug up to create larger fields and farmers ploughing up closer to the edges of fields to increase plantation opportunities. The RSPB has some excellent tips on how to make your garden wildlife friendly here – including what plants and flowers to grow and practical advice on improving your garden habitat.

Closer to home, local animal welfare group, Ross-on-Wye Hedgehog Care and Advice, say that hedgehogs are also sadly in decline and are now listed as vulnerable to extinction in the UK. The group has a dedicated website which provides lots of useful tips on how to make your garden hedgehog-friendly, how to help them during hibernation and the cold winter months and what you can do if you find an injured hedgehog. Charlotte Reynolds, who works as a volunteer with the team, will be joining our live Facebook event this week to discuss the importance of hedgehogs in our town habitats.

Join our live online Facebook event on Thursday 10 December at 6pm by logging on at www.facebook.com/rosscdt. If you can’t make it on the night, the video will be available to view on our Facebook pages afterwards.

Photo: Sarah Cole won second place in the Art category of our Ross in Lockdown photo competition with this lovely collage using all natural materials including flowers, petals and leaves.

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