Gorse in flower at Wildacres
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JANUARY:

JANUARY:

 

HOW YOU CAN HELP BIODIVERSITY AND ENJOY NATURE THIS MONTH .

Christmas has come and gone and we need something to cheer us all up.

 

What better way to help beat the January blues, than to make a decision to act this year to help halt biodiversity loss,, and do your bit to help reverse climate change. 

 

It can be all to daunting and even confusing for us all, when we see depressing headline after headline in relation to Climate change and Biodiversity loss.

 

Headlines such as "Countries must declare Climate Emergency" - UN Chief "or "World Wildlife plummets 68% in 50 years" - Living Planet Index.

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

The answer is simple, resolve to help biodiversity by managing your outdoor spaces in a more wildlife friendly manner.

 

Look at your immediate surroundings. Your gardens, patios, work surroundings and community spaces, and resolve to do what you can.. You can make a real difference by acting in your immediate area that surrounds you in your day to day life.

 

The feeling of satisfaction to be had from knowing you are helping wildlife recover and doing your bit to help reverse climate change is incredible. The joy of seeing nature up close and wildlife arrive and establish in these outdoor spaces around you is wonderful, even priceless.

We will list positive actions here month by month throughout 2021 that will make a real difference in relation to biodiversity loss and climate change. We believe some, or all of these actions are possible for most people to take on.

 

Go on.... try some or even all of them. You will be rewarded many many times over. 

A very Happy New Year to you and Very Best Wishes from us here at Wildacres to you for 2021.    

PUT UP BIRD NEST BOXES:

Late winter is a great time to put up nest boxes in preparation for the spring and summer nesting season.

Birds soon will be checking out potential nest sites and a great way to keep them in your garden during Spring and Summer is putting up suitable nest boxes.

With the destruction of wildlife habitat birds are becoming more and more reliant on measures taken to help them, Measures such as feeding them during the lean winter months as detailed in last months edition, which you can access here. 

 

Or other actions such as putting up nest boxes.

 

This is a great way to help them for lots of reasons, such as the shortage of suitable secure nesting sites due to old trees being cut down, wild areas being cleared for agriculture or development and renovation of old houses sealing up previous nesting sites in building cavities and holes.

 

Another threat they face now is that they are increasingly being predated upon, by non native animals. Animals we have introduced into our natural environment such as domestic cats hunting in gardens and hedgerows or the introduced invasive grey squirrel eating chicks or eggs from nests.

 

So as you can see they need all the help they can get.    

 

Where to get Nest boxes. ?.

 

Well a great place to buy them from is the wonderful charity registered conservation organization 

Birdwatch Ireland.

 

They have an excellent online shopping facility and monies raised go towards various important conservation projects nationally. They also stock a range of other items relating to bird feeding and bird watching.

There are a range of nest boxes available and putting up some of the different types will increase the chance of attracting different species to your garden. Some birds will prefer open fronted nest boxes and some enclosed with a small entrance hole (as above photo).

Birds preferring the enclosed Nest boxes with the entrance hole are as follows

Bird                        Entrance Hole Size

Starling                  45mm

House Sparrow   32mm

Great Tit                 28mm

Blue Tit                    25mm

Coal Tt                    25mm

Wren                       25mm

Birds preferring the partially open fronted Nest boxes with an open entrance, approximately 60mm in size, are as follows

Robin

Pied Wagtail

Blackbirds can sometimes also be tempted to nest in boxes that are fully open fronted.

Their are other nest boxes you can put up that are more specialized, such as ones for our Great Spotted Woodpecker (Yes we have these beautiful birds here now as part of our native wildlife, recently arrived, see more about them here)

 

Or Swallow nesting cups, Tree creeper nest boxes. and Swift nest boxes.

 

So if you have sighted any of these previously or if you think your local outdoor space might be an attractive habitat for them why not try putting them up. 

Ideally all nest boxes should be sited above 2 meters from ground level.

 

We have found at Wildacres the 32mm hole entrance enclosed nest box is a good all around option for the smaller birds that nest in boxes with just a small entrance hole.  This is because it will attract as well the birds preferring the smaller 25mm hole entrance.

 

Do not site nest boxes to close to bird feeders as this makes it difficult for the nesting birds to defend their territory.

 

Also position them preferably with some natural shade, facing between north and east so as not to get full exposure to winds, and full sun which could cause overheating. The nest boxes should also be ideally tilted slightly forward when affixed. This will allow rain to easily run off and any rain that enters the box drain away.

They can be affixed to trees with nylon cable ties or wire housed partly in a section of hose pipe to protect against damaging the tree. They do not have to be sited solely on trees but can go up on any sturdy structure that will withstand the winds and not be easily accessible by cats or other predators.

Neighborhood cats can be a real problem especially for young birds just after they have fledged and left the nest, and are not aware of threats. Cats are highly efficient hunters as can be seen by the birds and other small wildlife they will often return with to the doorstep of their home.

 

If you have a neighbor who has a cat you might politely request if they could keep them in at dawn and dusk especially, and preferably overnight, as this is the time they impact significantly on bird and other small wildlife numbers. The use of a small bell or two on their collars that are sold for this purpose in pet stores can help in warning birds of their approach.

Don't despair if your new nest-box is not occupied straight away. Sometimes it can take a couple of seasons for birds to start using them, but often they do occupy them in the first year if they are put up early enough, such as now in January​. If they do move into their new lodgings, during the nesting period it is essential that the birds are never disturbed, as if so they will often abandon the nest.

So best of luck, and enjoy that wonderful sight of the birds checking out the nest box and then of the parents coming and going with food. every few minutes to feed those little hungry chicks

 

And finally, if you are lucky enough to be their at the right time, the sight of the little chicks eventually fledging and leaving the nest. Often they will stay close by for a period in a bush or tree where you can watch the beautiful sight of the parents feeding them before they finally depart to find and setup a territory of their own. 

 

PUT UP BIRD FEEDERS:

January is a great month to start feeding our wild birds.

To attract them into your outdoor spaces. What better way to brighten up these darker winter days. 

See Decembers post all about this  here. 

PLANT A NATIVE TREE OR SHRUB:

This is a still a great month to get some planting done. See Decembers post relating to this here. 

TAKE A WILLOW CUTTING:

This is a great month to take a Willow cutting.

See Decembers post relating to this here.