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APRIL:

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HOW YOU CAN HELP BIODIVERSITY AND ENJOY NATURE

THIS MONTH .

What a great time of year, lengthening brighter days. and at last some warmth in the sun.

The signals to the natural world to spring into action. there is so much happening all around us at the moment, 

in our countryside, parks gardens and even towns.

From the buds bursting on the trees, to the spring flowers unfurling. From the emerging of the queen bumblebees from hibernation to start to build their colonies, to our birds busily establishing territories and building nests. From the frogspawn in the ponds to the hibernating butterflies awakening from their long winter slumber. 

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And what about the migrant birds that will be arriving soon .

 

Isn't it incredible to think that, even at this moment, the waves of spring and summer migrant birds that arrive here to breed every year, are in the process of undertaking their massive daunting journeys on the way to us.

 

Journeys that are up to 10,0000 km in distance from places as far away as South Africa to arrive here over the coming weeks. 

 

Tiny birds such as Swallows, House martins, Sand Martins, Swifts, Chiffchaffs, Willow warblers and many more.

 

That such tiny creatures can make such epic journeys, crossing vast swathes of inhospitable terrain such as the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean sea is incredible. Beautiful birds like this juvenile swallow that was raised in our shed at Wildacres last year, hopefully to return to breed this year, or this willow warbler of which we had many young clutches raised and fledged.. 

Juvenile Swallow fledged at Wildacres in 2020
Juvenile Chiffchaff fledged at Wildacres in 2020

There are lots of things you can do this month to help halt biodiversity loss and make a real difference to our threatened native wildlife. It is worth noting that every effort made, no matter how small has a real impact.

What can I do.  How can I make a difference ?.

 

Start with your immediate spaces around you. If you have a garden, or community space , a patio, a balcony.

or even a window box on a window sill you can act now and help restore our under threat native wildlife. 

 

We have such precious and beautiful wildlife here on our doorstep and it is in drastic need of your help and protection..

 

All it needs is the right conditions which can be provided with a little effort and you will be rewarded many many times over. You will get close up views of stunning animals to fascinate you and that wonderful feeling of satisfaction knowing you really are making a difference..

Catterpillar on Blackberry fruit.
Carder bumbebee loaded with pollen drinking nectar on wildlflower.

This months plan of action in essence involves taking no action.

 

What we would suggest you do is choose an area of your outdoor space or garden and simply leave it untended. Then sit back and watch the fascinating process as nature takes over that space and it is colonized by our wonderful native wildlife.

Nature is just waiting for a chance to flourish. Our manicured lawns, tidied flower beds and cleared spaces are all but deserts for wildlife. What wildlife needs is "messy" yes messy. It will take a change of mindset for us to realize that to help restore biodiversity and get the chance again to see our native wildlife thrive we must provide the habitat..

So leaving an area to "re-wild" or go back to nature will provide this vital habitat.

 

Think of the plants for instance that would grow in such an area if we were to leave it grow wild.

 

Perhaps bramble, ivy, nettles, thistles and many more of what are often classed as "weeds". Such weeds are in reality hugely important wildlife plants providing an abundant source of food, shelter and habitat for wildlife to breed in. 

Goldfinches feeding on thistle seed.
Comma butterfly on thistle flower
Butterfly, Bumblebee and honeybee feeding on bramble flower.

When discussing plants vital for wildlife we have to mention our stunning Dandelions that are in full flower now.

 

What a beautiful wildflower it truly is. Such large flower heads of vibrant yellow flowers that are massively important for so many of our pollinators.

 

As a wildflower for our pollinators it is the perfect plant in that it blooms in early spring when there is not that much yet in flower. It produces large amounts of both pollen and nectar providing a vital food source for pollinators emerging from hibernation such as solitary bees and  bumblebees and some of our beautiful native butterflies.

 

Also for honeybees beginning to become more active after their period of winter rest and for other butterflies that have undertaken a massive and seemingly impossible migration to our shores from north africa such as the incredible painted lady butterfly. 

Painted lady butterfly on a dandelion flower.

This picture we took at wildacres shows how important a wildflower the dandelion is. It shows a painted lady butterfly recently just arrived after its migration here refuelling with nectar on a dandeion flower. As the picture shows this huge migration they undertake takes its toll and they will use the likes of dandelions to feed and regain their strength to breed here before dying soon after.

So to leave them flower in our open spaces, gardens, parks and roadside verges is something we can do to make a real difference to help biodiversity. To not mow areas of lawns and let dandelions and other wildflowers emerge. Or even at least, if this is too drastic a step, to reduce mowing until after the dandelions have flowered and set seed.

 

It ties in nicely with our action, or inaction, this month to help biodiversity. To ease off on clearing and cutting and leave spaces for nature to flourish.

So why not give it a try, allow a space for nature to reclaim and do as it will. Then sit back and watch as wildlife returns and you will be both fascinated and rewarded by the outcome. 

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MAKE A POLLINATOR BED.

This is still a great month to make a pollinator bed, see here for some tips in establishing one in last months post

Pollinator bed at Wildacres Nature Reserve.
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PLANT OUR NATIVE IVY CLIMBING SHRUB.

April is a still agreat month to plant a wonderful plant for wildlife, our native climbing Ivy here. 

Ivy berries a great late winter food source for wildlife.
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FEED THE BIRDS:

April is a still a great month to feed our wild birds in preparation for the breeding season which is now underway. And a great way to attract them into your outdoor spaces.

 

See the previous post all about this here. 

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PUT UP BIRD NEST BOXES:

It is late, but there is still a chance if put up beginning of April that a nest box might be used this season.

 

If not used this season at least it is up as there is always next season, and it might be used as a roosting spot for birds to sleep in during next winter. 

 

See the previous post with lots of information on how to go about this here.

 

Blue Tit chick getting ready to fledge the nest at Wildacres.
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PLANT A NATIVE TREE OR SHRUB:

It is too late now to source or plant bare root plants as they are now actively growing but if you can source ones in pots they can be planted out at any time during the year. Ask in your local garden center do they have any native trees or shrubs for sale already potted up ready for planting.

 

See previous post relating to this here. 

Native Hedgerow being planted at Wildacres
Hawthorn Berries in Autumn.