With more snow and ice predicted to hit many areas of the UK this weekend and into next week, we thought it might be nice to share with you some our top tips to help look after wildlife this winter. We hope you find them useful, although please note we can’t guarantee we will have the capacity to answer questions posted as comments.
- When heavy snow fall and plunging temperatures make the ground frozen and inaccessible, ground-feeding birds such as dunnocks and thrushes can be prevented from accessing the invertebrates they usually rely on for food. Clearing areas of snow so that wildlife can access the ground underneath is a simple way to help our feathered friends access the food they need.
- Frozen water bodies could prevent ducks, otters, water voles, and wading birds from feeding or behaving as normal. While many people try to feed the birds during the wintertime, it is a lesser known fact that providing a shallow bowl of water can also be a form of vital support.
- Research the species you are feeding to ensure that the food you provide for them is safe for them to eat. For birds use a variety of food types such as bird-seed mixtures, fat-balls, mealworms (adored by robins), fresh coconut or even mild grated cheese which is favoured by dunnocks. The greater the variety of food the greater will be the variety of birds you attract to your garden.
- Please avoid putting out mouldy or desiccated food, cooked porridge oats, milk or fat from cooking as these can be harmful to birds.
- Make sure feeders are free from snow and that they are placed at a safe height above the ground to avoid attacks from domestic animals.
On a more positive note, it’s not all bad for Scotland’s wildlife right now. Moles and voles and other underground creatures could be finding this weather quite cosy, as the snow will act as a layer of insulation and protects them from predators.
Winter can also be a great time of year to see and hear wildlife. Look out for the tracks and signs in the snow and try and identify who made them, listen for Tawny owls as they start their noisy courtship, and if you get the chance visit a coastal or inland water wildlife reserve like Loch of the Lowes or our Montrose Basin Visitor Centre in Angus to see spectacular numbers of geese, ducks and swans. If you are out and about, why not let us know what you spot!