Month: April 2020

April Writing Competition Entries

In our April newsletter, we set you the task of writing a 250 word story about what you can see from your window.  We were amazed by the variety of the entries – they were all so good – all of them displaying just what wildlife means to you.  It was a joy to read them.   Our winner was Simon Winch and his lovely story about Urban Foxes – Simon wins a £20 Amazon voucher – well done Simon!

All of the entries are below for you to read through and enjoy!

(And look out for a mention of our very own Nigel Bewley!)


Winner

Urban Foxes by Simon Winch

Over 18, UB2

Yellow-breasted workmen down tools, lock the compound, and join their families for an unexpected spring holiday. Night descends, stranded park benches on newly laid lawn keep company with landscaping materials, young branches sway, and spectral plastic packaging is whipped by the wind.

Soon new workmen emerge, their orange jackets dulled by twilight. On security detail, they comb the perimeter, checking fences for fastness. The younger of them tumble on the newly laid grass, as an older head plods onwards with minimum of fuss. Curtains twitch, and new neighbours join in our delight.

Soon the building site will become busy again, and these orange-coated performers will have to share their turf. But for now, they please their audience, and at 8pm on Thursdays soak up their applause.


Basia Korzeniowska

Over 18, W13

Today I am on safari.  In my kitchen.  I am wearing khaki and  trying to blend in with my environment. I stand very still and look out of my kitchen window which  looks out onto my garden. it is tiny – 22 feet by 12,  north facing and very dark - but what a riot of colour. Cyclamen, fuchsias, geraniums, camellias, daffodils and snowdrops. and lots of greenery.  All home to a wide variety of wildlife.  Birds, squirrels, mice and rats.  And spiders.

We used to have a bird table just outside the window – a lovely little structure, with a little roof – a perfect little shelter and feeder for the birds.  We used to get jays, magpies, robins, blackbirds and even a woodpecker once.  Lots of tits and chaffinches – always a pleasure to look at. But the bird food was disappearing very fast.  At first I was delighted that my little dining area was popular with our feathered friends.  And then I looked.  It wasn’t the feathered two legged members of the animal kingdom that were enjoying my bounty.  Two extremely fat rats feasting at my expense.  The bird table was removed the next day and yet   the birds still kept coming.  Some robins even made a nest in the hedge.  And then one day in the spring what do I see but eight! Eight little ratlings gambolling on the grass.  They looked so sweet. Brown and glossy with long swishy tails. But I don’t want to see them ever again.


Where’s my Fuzzle? by Andi-Rae Walsh

Under 18, W7

Once there was a beautiful world, it had all different kinds of nature, it even had lovely, warm weather.
One happy day it was perfect to go out in the garden!(If you had one.)
On this summers morning some people were moving into a house near a mini golf course, where some friendly wildlife lived in a field next to the mini golf course for adults to play golf too!! The people who moved in last week came to the mini golf course with their little girl taking her teddy she never let’s go of, that she named Fuzzle a few years ago!
When they were playing golf on the mini course, the little girl (named Daisy) was paying more attention to the fun she was having on the 5th hole that she left Fuzzle behind when they moved on to hole 6. Then they all went home because:

  1. They’d finished all 9 holes
  2.  It was late
  3. Daisy was tired!

When they got home disaster struck!
Daisy noticed she had lost Fuzzle . Then this happened “WWWWWWW………WWW…….WWAAAAAAAAA……….AAAAAA!!!”
Her parents said they’d have to get him in the morning because the golf place would be closed. Daisy spent the whole night looking out the window. After some time Daisy couldn’t believe her eyes and screamed waking her parents up!
There in the middle of the garden was a hedgehog holding Fuzzle!
From that day on Daisy and her parents always left out cat food to say thank you.


Cathryn Wynn-Jones

Over 18, W13

There’s a tiny park right outside my window – just a little playground, a single bench and a patch of grass.

The playground is locked now, covered in yellow government warning signs, but yesterday I looked out and saw fox cubs playing there at three in the afternoon – squeaking, rolling, chasing each other up and down. The mother fox watched them from the shade.

There’s police tape across the bench – no place to sit down for a moment if you’re tired on your one daily walk. But last weekend I saw a squirrel stretched out on it, basking in the sun, for at least twenty minutes. Squirrels have no respect for the law.

Every now and then someone comes to mow the grass, and whoever spots it first will shout: “They’re mowing the grass!”

Then all four of us run to the window to watch the mower as it loops up and down. It’s not that we’re bored, it’s just that little things suddenly seem much more interesting.

When they’ve finished, we keep the windows open so that the flat fills with the cut-grass smell, and watch the birds and the squirrels and the foxes come back.

While our world gets smaller, theirs is getting bigger.


The Cherry Tree by Heidi Cullip

Over 18, W13

It is Spring. The wind is moving through the cherry tree – the white blossoms and green leaves are dancing in the breeze against the backdrop of a bright blue sky. It is April. Sunny but cold. The signs of life are everywhere but, from my window, all I can see is the cherry tree. I’m sitting at my computer and daydreaming – the cherry tree is mocking me with its place in the sun and its view over the neighbouring back gardens. What can the cherry tree see? What has it seen in its lifetime? I’ve been here 4 years so it’s witnessed the drunken summer BBQs, the dogs I look after, the books I’ve read whilst sat under its branches. But what about before me? My husband has been here for 14 years – what secrets of his does the cherry tree know?

Where did the cherry tree come from, I wonder. A seed blown in on the breeze from France or Spain or Turkey? A voyager who has been on a long journey, its final destination a back garden in Ealing? Floating on the wind, blowing across a continent, a sea and a city to end up in our soil. Is it happy to be grounded at last or does it wish it could fly on the wind forever? It looks happy – its pink-white blossom covers the tree making it shine in the sun. With its arms up to the sky the cherry tree looks like it’s dancing.


Bees Matter by Louise Powell

Over 18

“You need to grow up and leave that poor defenceless creature alone, what’s it ever done to you?” If I said it once I said it a thousand times a day, people just didn’t make sense to me. What pleasure was there to be had in harassing a tiny being that was quietly living its’ life, doing what was necessary for its’ survival and that of its’ companions?

This part of town was not my favourite, but there were plenty of trees, and the streets were filled with an assortment of people – short, tall, plain, rainbow-coloured, men, women, children and all manner of beings in between.

I disliked people intently. Birds I could tolerate, they made beautiful sounds. Squirrels, foxes, badgers and beyond, well, I had an expanding affection for them. Something about their cute babies and furry coats. My anger this morning, however, concerned a frighteningly ignorant human being and the object of my passion, a bee.

Bees just mattered to me, they worked hard, they lived in hierarchical communities, and they managed to fly even though in theory their wings weren’t large enough to carry their bodies. I knew there was a hive nearby because I saw a number of bees making the same journey every day.

I wasn’t a big fan of the outdoors (too many people), so I was grateful for the large window at the front of my flat. Those busy insects carried me beside them as they travelled, and I wasn’t about to let anyone deprive me of that magical experience.


A Blink of Wildlife by Poppy Powell

under 18

I blink as the small shivers of light waltz across my room: a writhing lake. The sun lazily wades among the blue sky, a contrast of elements. The sky is a blue you will only see once, as if made of the nebulas that somersault and swoon in the night-time. The old willow tree creaks and moans and its ribbons of never-ending green remind me of waterfalls. I feel the shade of the mighty oak tree enwrap me in its crisp embrace and shields me from the sun. I steer my gaze down. Different grasses, bluebells and other hated `weeds` congregate and create a patchwork of lilacs and greens and all sorts of colours. A spectrum like stained glass. Roses entangle the old, weathered sundial, whose angel’s shadow points roughly to the south where the mills churn the flour and make the loafs: they are often stolen by the squirrels. They live in the birch tree behind the sunflower patch. Their red fur much more precious than the purest diamond. Building their flats and bounding across my wild garden to the peach tree where an abundance of wildlife blooms. Goldfinches dart in and out amongst the gnarly branches; blue tits tweet their at-first feeble but melodic song. Thrushes feast on the holly berries that creep up past the peach tree. I breathe in the sweet scent of the wisteria that frames my window and wistfully look at the honeybees and their pockets of pollen.

I blink again at wondrous wildlife.


Anonymous

Over 18, UB6

The tree has grown sturdy this year. Another season of rain, a half season of sun, and where last year it could proudly point outwards with its own shoots, unfurl frothy blossoms from its own hands, this year it has learned to perform such magic without a fuss and to quietly accept its growth is for others.

The silvery branches no longer quiver, and are strong enough to hold safe. First a blackbird alights, a little cautiously. Blue tits follow, barely shaking the branch with the strength of their squabble, and even a pigeon confidently, if a little misguidedly, swoops its feet onto the rowan’s broadest branch.

And the people notice, and a feeder is hung. Fat balls, seeds, a towering pile of peanuts that could feed a family of tits all winter. The rowan does not bend, and the branches welcome them all.

The perch a stage for feet and beaks, wings whirr and cries cross as each bright eye spots the food source. The second pair of goldfinches are even cockier than the first, and the pigeon’s mate overbalances too, but the robin’s swagger sees them all off.

The blackbird watches from the fresh flush of hornbeam all around, planted the same year; its new leaves almost too sharply green for human eyes. This tree, he knows, strong enough to hold these contraptions swaying with hungry hourly battles, will swell red berries in the coming months, and he will wait.


The View From My Bedroom Window by Maya Klich

Under 18, W7

In Spring, when nature comes to life, I tumble out of bed every morning to a wonderful scene from my bedroom window: my garden. Finally, the bitter chill of Winter has been shoved away and the sun’s beams appear to reach down and tickle the flowers buds awake, opening up their multicoloured petals. This is an instant invitation to dozens of industrious bees, all keen to gather handfuls of pollen. All plants in the garden breathe in the glowing energy of this magnificent season while many different types of birds fly about in the clear, azure sky. My two cats stretch out and sunbathe on the trampoline, and observe the gorgeous butterflies waltzing around the garden. Tree leaves sway and rustle in the slight Spring breeze like professional dancers circling to an unknown beat. The dewy grass stands straight like bony, stretched-out fingers, drying itself from its morning hose shower. Robins and blackbirds land on top of our viridescent shed and sing with their soothing, harmonic voices. Intertwining vines, which crawl across our fence, explode in an array of greens as their leaves grow.

During dusk, the sun looks like a sphere of melting wax, softening into slime. Soon, a vast, silver coin surfaces above the horizon and twinkling stars emerge from the darkening sky.  Foxes start roaming the area; they resemble orange-masked bandits, leaping over hedges and slipping through gaps below fences. The wind howls softly and after hours of duskiness, the sun creeps up and the moon flees.


Amazing Foxes by Niamh Walsh

Under 18, W7

Foxes are amazing creatures we just take them for granted.

Every night one comes into my garden and sits below my window. I often sit there waiting by my window and when she doesn’t come I read. My security light turns on when someone is their so I know she is there. I look outside and she is there waiting for me. She jumps up and down she also rolls side to side and runs off from the side of the garden to the back of my garden. She is so cute and plays around with the stuff in the garden like shoes if they’re wet but she never rips them.

I’ve never got a picture of her but she is a very cute fox. I love her a lot.

I watch her playing with the stuff outside and wish I could be with her but I should be in bed. I know it’s a girl because one night she brought a cub with her and they were playing together so happily until they heard something and ran away. A few minutes later they came back not seeming scared a bit. They carried on playing and then she brought her little cub below my window. The little fox cub was so beautiful and it’s eyes from what I could see were blue like the ocean. As it was cuddling up to the mother fox she started licking her little cub.

I enjoy being able to watch them more during lockdown.


Butterflies by Sophie

Under 18, W5

It is April.  2020.  Lockdown.  I’m bored.  Again.  In my room.  Up high.  Near the sky.  Feeling like there’s nothing to do.  I stare down.  Down into the garden.  The emerald-green garden. Nothing is happening.  It looks bored.  At night, at least I can watch the three-legged fox scampering around the garden. The neighbour’s cat is perched on our fence staring inquisitively at something just out of sight.  I follow her gaze to the red- leafed tree.  I squint my eyes into the bright, sun-lit day.  I can just about make something out … something blue.  Forget-me-not blue.  Out of the corner of my eye, I think I can see it move – just slightly…  Hang on, it swirling up into the air; it’s flying. It’s coming closer to me, its flying up high to my window… to me!  When it is just on the other side of the window, directly opposite me, the forget-me-not blue butterfly looks at me.  I know it smiles.  I smile back.  I’m going to follow that butterfly. Lockdown does not have to be boring and…

Then I hear mum coming up the stairs.  “Mum, Mum!”,
“Yes, what now?”
“ I’m not bored!


Noisy Neighbours by Lynda O’Hare

Over 18, UB6

The noise never stops. Back and forth they go, busy, busy, busy, chirping, trilling and exercising vocal gymnastics that begin before dawn and last all day, each competing for the sweetest, loudest and most melodic song.

These noisy neighbours are my feathered friends building their nests. In and out of trees and hedges,sneaking under logs, beady eyes ever searching for twigs, leaves and the garden treasure they need for a perfect nest, working like there’s no time to spare.

The bigger birds – crows and magpies prefer the tall trees, their nests swaying in lofty branches.Closer to my window, the hedge is alive with the little ones, blue tits, great tits, coal tits, flapping around. The goldfinches have flown elsewhere, they play so hard to get, now you see them, now you don’t. A distant green woodpecker chuckles and a chubby chaffinch sits quietly, alone, taking a break from the frenzied activity all around.

And there’s mating action too from my noisy neighbours. A pair of crows argue and tussle over a chicken bone like an old married couple on a drunken night out fighting for the last drop of cider, while two contented stock doves, devoted to each other, snuggle up on their favourite branch in the cherry tree.

My feathered friendly noisy neighbours, reminding me another spring is upon us and that once more, they will gift me with chicks and song, entertainment and joy that only birds can bring. I won’t complain about my noisy neighbours!


The Robin by Camille Gajria

Over 18, UB5

You won’t believe me but I’ll tell you anyway.

Scruffy robin, toes curled tight on the washing line. Propelled by the gentle breeze, he swings from the patch warmed by the exceptional April sun we’re getting, to the shade from my neighbour’s overhanging ivy, surveying for a meal from my dig.

Lockdown has been good for digging. Digging is disruptive to the soil, but also aerates it. If you dig deep enough, you can break out a sweat, but you might also find treasure: a long-forgotten toy stashed there by a fox, pre-decimal coins, crockery, worms.
And then he begins his powerful Spring song, in melodious, complex riffs.

I unfold my spine and wipe my brow. The line is still now.

He hops off it and approaches me. Tenacious creature. He hops and hops and lands between my finger and my thumb, like Heaney’s squat pen.

His urgent song is incessant. Robin what are you saying? He beckons me to drop my head. Time has stopped. I see all the reds, browns, and whites, and the outline and inset of each feather, more clearly than I ever have before. I consider moving away, maybe he will peck me. Or maybe I should’ve had my camera ready like Nigel would say.

But before I can turn, he comes right up to my ear and whispers:
“Where there is shadow, there must be light”.

Photograph Wildlife in its Environment

Long time EWG member and nature photographer extraordinaire Nigel Bewley has put together two photography tutorials for us! This one is about Wildlife in its Environment and the previous one is Birds in Flight . Thanks Nigel!

Take a step back

It’s lovely and impressive to fill the frame with your subject and make a photograph that is a close-up portrait full of detail but without much of the environment – the place where your subject lives. Just by showing a little of the environment puts the photograph into context. Two goldfinches on a feeder? We know straight away that it was likely to have been taken in a garden with the inference that goldfinches are garden birds.

A portrait often works well. But what of the environment in which your subject lives?

Set The Scene

If you have wildlife in your garden, set yourself up with your camera, make yourself comfortable and be prepared for a wait. It could be that your subject has become used to you or is so busy that it doesn’t care about your presence.

Try using a piece of material to cover yourself as a disguise. It is always a good idea to keep quiet, move slowly and don’t wear perfume or aftershave. Foxes, amphibians in the pond, birds flying into nest boxes or even rats make great subjects that are right on your doorstep.

Patience is often a key to getting the shot or you might just get lucky.

Use Props And Build A Set

For this photograph of a coal tit I set up a wooden carry-box and various garden tools and scattered some peanuts. Wait for the right light – you will know when the sun makes its way around the garden and is behind you. Some wildlife photographers can be a bit sniffy about this technique and don’t consider it “proper”.

Many, many successful, published wildlife photographs use props and bait. A fox investigating a tipped-over dustbin? A kingfisher perched on a sign that reads “No Fishing”? A squirrel looking through a camera’s viewfinder? All artifice, guile and imagination.

Go Wide In The Wild

Composition often plays a key role in environmental photographs. Get away from placing your subject in the middle of the frame. A successful environmental photograph may simply be a landscape shot where the subject plays an important role in acting as a focal point.

By including some of this red deer stag’s habitat the image tells more of a story about the animal’s relationship with the environment. We can immediately see two things: it’s a stag and it’s in the mountains.

You don’t have to go to the Cairngorms for this kind of photograph. A nearby green space will works just as well. There’s plenty of wildlife around – like this muntjac. Go and look for it. It will be there.

Include People

Wildlife exists alongside us and we exist alongside wildlife. Our lives should be in balance with nature. It never ceases to amaze me how wildlife can be part of our lives – it’s all around us and it’s quite valid to document that with people or buildings etc. as part of the photograph. Wildlife, people and buildings. It often works very well.

A shaggy parasol mushroom in my local park
A barn owl and Ealing Hospital

Tell a story

Consider a series of photographs of the same subject taken over a period of time to tell a story. It could be of a particular tree seen over the year from bare branches to full leaf, a family of foxes and their cubs or the adoption of a nest box – not necessarily by birds – with their comings and goings.

Use your imagination. Use your love for wildlife.

Please obey and respect the current lockdown rules and advice.

Photographing Birds in Flight

Long time Ealing Wildlife Group member and nature photographer extraordinaire Nigel Bewley has put together two photography tutorials for us! This one is about Birds in Flight and the next one is Wildlife in its Environment. Thanks Nigel!

Getting To Grips With Photographing Birds In Flight

Exposure setting

Start with Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority.

Shutter Speed

Select a shutter speed fast enough to “freeze” the bird’s wings in your photograph. Go for at least 1/1000th of a second to 1/2000th of a second. Even faster is better, if possible.

Aperture

Select an aperture of around f/8. This aperture is likely to be the lens’s “sweet spot” where it is sharpest and you will also get a decent depth of field.

ISO

Set an ISO that will allow for the above combinations of shutter and aperture. On a bright and sunny day, start with an ISO of 250.

Focus Points

The most accurate focus point is the central point but it’s tricky to keep this centred on the bird. Activate all of the focus points or at least a cluster in the centre of the frame. Set your camera’s focus to continuous focus. The camera will continuously focus with the flight of the bird. Canon calls this function “AI Servo”. Nikon calls it AF-C or Continuous Servo.

Focus Points

Exposure Compensation

Your camera’s meter will be trying to expose for the bright sky. The bird that you are trying to photograph is not as bright as the sky so dial in around +1 EV of exposure to fool the meter into exposing for the bird and not the sky. If you are photographing a white bird such as a swan, you may need to dial in around -1 EV to stop the bird “burning out” in the photograph.

Plus/Minus

Look for a plus/minus button and dial in under or over exposure compensation

Lapwing plus 1
The dark lapwing needed +1 EV
owl minus 1
Pale barn owl needed -1 EV

The dark plumaged lapwing needed +1 EV but the bright, pale barn owl needed -1 EV for a correct exposure

Practice

Lots of practice in the garden or, if lock down allows, in the park.

Blue Tit Nest Box: Chapter One

Having treated myself to a camera bird box for Christmas in 2018 I was disappointed to get no visitors to it on my 4th floor balcony in 2019, but can’t say I was very surprised. Too high for a discerning tit or sparrow, I resigned myself. This Spring I took it to my pal Nigel’s place, where Blue Tits regularly avail  of his nest boxes to raise a brood. And he kindly agreed to host the box for the 2020 season, as well as edit and post any footage we managed to capture.

Well for the last few weeks we’ve been on tenterhooks as we’ve been teased by a pair of Great Tits at first, soon followed by a charming little Blue Tit pair inspecting the box and deciding whether or not it might make a nice home.

Let me tell you things have well and truly heated up in the Blue Tit family planning department in recent days, and nest building is underway.

So everyone’s in lock down, confined to their homes for the most part. Every Nature Nerd’s favourite programme, BBC Springwatch, is hanging in the balance of whether it airs or not this year. So we thought it was vitally important to provide you with regular updates of our own little Springwatch experiment here.

Check out the action to date in this, our first #EWGtitcam video, and stay tuned as we’ll be providing more footage of this industrious little pair’s antics in the weeks to come.

Stay safe and well folks, and enjoy.

Sean

Top 10 Tips for attracting wildlife during lockdown!

While we’re all confined, I’ve noticed so many more people taking the time to watch and observe the beauty of nature around us. It’s a pleasure to see people posting about it on our social media channels. Getting outdoors daily and connecting with nature is just so vital for all of our well being in general, but especially right now. Whether you’ve got a balcony, window ledge or a garden, there are many things we can all do to encourage wildlife to visit. Then sit back and enjoy watching wildlife going about their business as usual! 

1. Feed the birds

Birds benefit from having food provided all year round, and the more variety you can offer the more species you’ll attract. Peanuts, sunflower seeds, niger seed, fat balls and dried mealworms will bring in a huge range. Don’t forget a shallow dish of water too. Place feeders near some cover if possible so the birds feel safe stopping by, not out in the middle of a lawn or patio. If you don’t have a garden, not to worry, you can also get suction cup window feeders which will allow you to see your feathered visitors up real close. And everyone has a window! 

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/how-you-can-help-birds/feeding-birds/

Goldfinch by Kish Woolmore

 

2. Sow wildflower seeds

Buy some wildflower seed packets or a seed bomb online, and sow on a bare patch of earth, or in a pot, container or window box according to pack instructions. These usually contain a mix of native and ornamental flowering plants that are just perfect for pollinators like bees, hoverflies and butterflies. So not only do they create a wonderful display of colour, they also benefit some of our most threatened insects. You can get various mixes that suit woodland shade, full sun, dry or damp conditions so choose your spot and get sowing now.

https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/actions/how-grow-wild-patch

Wildflowers by Jenny Gough

 

3. Make a container pond

Any water in your outdoor space will act as a magnet for thirsty wildlife like birds, insects and mammals. And it doesn’t have to be a massive pond. Why not try making a pond in miniature using an empty plastic container, plant pot (with no drainage holes) or an old half barrel. Any water tight container will do, and you can do this on a windowsill too. You’ll be astonished what comes to visit; damsel and dragonflies, lots of microscopic water creatures if you look closely, and if you’re lucky maybe even a newt, toad or frog!

https://www.rspb.org.uk/fun-and-learning/for-families/family-wild-challenge/activities/make-a-mini-pond/

Container pond by Indra Thillainathan

 

4. Stop mowing the lawn

Put your feet up and forget about lawn mowing this summer. Not only is it terrible for the environment, we’re running out of grass in urban areas, especially gardens, as people use decking, paving and (cringe alert!) Astroturf instead. Not good for flooding risk either, all this hard landscaping. But it’s also an ecological desert for wildlife. So to counteract it, what if we all left even a portion of our lawns unmown this year? Wildflowers will spring up and the long grasses with their attractive seed heads provide cover and food for an abundance of insects, including lots of butterfly and moth species. Insects are the bottom of the food chain, so with all this new bug life you’ll get more bats and birds and other creatures too.  

https://plantlife.love-wildflowers.org.uk/wildflower_garden/mynomow/

Long Grass by Jane Ruhland

 

5. Put up a nest box

If you haven’t already put up a nest box for birds, get cracking. The avian property market is hot, hot, hot right now so you need to be quick. There are various designs available online; blue tits, great tits and sparrows like circular hole fronted boxes (a different diameter for each, 25mm, 28mm, 32mm respectively). Robins, wrens and wagtails will use open fronted boxes. An old teapot or boot placed deep in a hedge can even turn into a robin des res, just be sure to place the teapot spout down and boot toe down for drainage! And if you have a nest box that’s been up for ages and never used, change it to a different location this year. They need to be out of direct sunlight, ideally facing between north and east. Hole fronted ones on a tree or wall 2-4m high. Under 2m high in dense cover for an open fronted robin box. 

Don’t forget to tune in across our social media channels for what happens in our Blue Tit camera nest box!

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/how-you-can-help-birds/nestboxes/

Blue Tit in our camera nest box, hosted by Nigel Bewley

 

6. Build a log pile or compost heap

Find logs, branches or even woody cuttings from shrubs and trees in your garden and pile them up in a quiet area, leaving a few spaces in between. Rotting wood is an important habitat for insects and other invertebrates, which feed lots of other creatures in your garden ecosystem. Log piles also attract the nationally rare Stag Beetle, whose larva feeds on dead wood. London and Ealing are hotspots for this impressive insect, so the more dead wood you can provide in the garden the better. You may also attract newts, toads, slow worms and even hedgehogs if you make a teepee style pile! Log piles for the win! 

https://www.hedgehogstreet.org/help-hedgehogs/helpful-garden-features/

Volunteers Richard, Jane & Alex build a logpile by Sean McCormack

 

7. Dig a pond

If you’ve got the space, I can’t recommend installing a pond highly enough. It’s the single most beneficial feature in any wildlife garden. You’ll have hours of entertainment peering into its depths and marvelling at the number of creatures it draws in to drink, feed or breed over the years. So yes, it’s a bit of hard work to dig and install, but it will repay you ten times over. We’d love to see your efforts if you decide that this is the year you finally put in a pond! Great resources here to help you:

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/gardening-for-wildlife/water-for-wildlife/planning-a-pond/

Smooth Newt in pond by Nigel Bewley

 

8. Provide a bee hotel

You can buy one online, or make one yourself from scrap wood, boxes or old plastic bottles and stuff them full of hollow bamboo sticks. Place on a sunny wall and watch as various solitary bees use it to raise their young. You can also help the more familiar bumblebees by sinking and upturned terracotta pot into a sunny bank or border filled with dried grass or straw. More detailed instructions here:

https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/bumblebee-nests/

Bee hotel by Trish Hart

 

9. Stop using chemicals

Pesticides, herbicides and fungicides line the aisles in garden centres all over the country. These are poisons, killing far more than their target pests and diseases. So please ditch the weedkiller, go chemical free and stop the slug pellets. Poisoned slugs are no good for amphibians, hedgehogs, song thrushes that rely on them for dinner. Use biological controls, like nematodes which are just as if not more effective and eco friendly. You can order biological control for many common garden pests online as well as organic options for many plant diseases.

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/gardening-for-wildlife/animal-deterrents/organic-pest-control/

Leopard slug by Rachael Webb. These ones eat other slugs! 

 

10. See the small things

We’re challenging you to go out in whatever outdoor space you have access to and spend an hour just looking at the ground, the leaves, the world around you. ONce you stop to watch and really observe what’s happening down at ground level in your lawn, or under a stone, or in the edges of a pond if you’re lucky to have access to one, you’ll discover lots of life. Take a snap of what you find, and post it on our social media using the hashtag #seethesmallthings. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/B96EjpZnavi/

Hoverfly by Julian Oliver