I HOPE you all enjoyed taking part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch last month.
A mixture of weather conditions up and down the country – from snow, to rain, sunny spells and everything in-between – might mean you spotted some interesting birds in your garden. Remember, you can still submit your results until 15th February. Visit www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch for details. Some birds that don’t often frequent our backyards are forced in when natural food sources become scarce, and those of you who put out supplementary food and water may be rewarded with some more unusual visitors if the cold weather returns. As February progresses, and the light slowly creeps into more of our days, you may start to think about spring and the jobs you can do.
If you have a sunny windowsill you can keep seed trays on, try sowing some early vegetable seeds this month, and if you can brave the cold, plant early potatoes and onion sets in the garden. You’ll feel even more spring-like when you notice the increase in birdsong while you’re out there. This month is a good time to test your bird-listening skills. There will only be a handful of the common residents singing and with no leaves on trees and bushes they are easier to see and identify. For example listen out for the ‘teacher, teacher’ call of the great tit and the fluting tunes of thrushes like blackbirds, song thrushes and mistle thrushes on sunny days. Lots of us will start the green fingered season with a spring clean of sheds and cupboards. We might take one look at the congealed lid of the weedkiller and want to throw it in the bin, but it’s really important to use and dispose of garden chemicals properly, or they could cause serious harm to wildlife. Don’t buy more than you need, always read the label and check for restrictions on where to use – ie not near ponds or fish tanks.
It’s also a good idea to spray early in the morning or late in the evening when bees and other insects are less active and to spray in calm conditions. And never dispose of unwanted product, diluted product or rinsings in household drains or ditches. For more tips and information on how to create the perfect wildlife garden, visit www.rspb.org.uk/homesforwildlife