January is the perfect month to start thinking about how to make your outside space more wildlife friendly, and we’ve put together some top tips to help you get started. Many of them will have an instant impact to help animals and birds make it through the winter but it’s also a great time to put some longer-term plans into action.
- Feed the birds – stock your bird table with a mixed buffet of seed, chopped apples, raisins and kitchen scraps; fat balls and suet blocks provide a valuable source of energy and are especially popular with the tit family; feeders full of peanuts, sunflower hearts or niger seed will attract finches and sparrows, while blackbirds and thrushes prefer to feed on the ground.
- Provide fresh water in a shallow dish - this will be used for both drinking and bathing. Keep it topped up and remember to break the ice if the weather gets frosty.
- Keep it clean – dirty feeders and bird baths help spread diseases but regular cleaning in warm soapy water will keep the birds healthy.
- Dig a pond - it doesn’t have to be large or deep and the best wildlife ponds have plenty of shallow water. In smaller spaces you can turn an old sink, bucket or bowl into a miniature water feature. Pond life will colonise naturally but adding a range of native plants will speed things up.
- Plant a tree that produces berries or fruit – try hawthorn, rowan or apple.
- Make a log or rock pile to shelter overwintering frogs, toads and newts.
- Start a compost heap – kitchen and garden waste will be broken down by worms and beetles, providing free fertiliser for your flowerbeds and a feast for hungry hedgehogs.
- Plan a wildflower meadow for spring sowing – prepare an empty flowerbed or create a mini meadow in a window box or planter.
- Build a mini-beast hotel – stack bricks, paving slabs, logs or wooden pallets to create a tower and fill it with a range of natural materials to create a multitude of microhabitats.
There’s more information on our website sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk/discover/in-your-garden or you can contact WildCall [email protected]