Lunchtime today, and I glanced out of the window and spotted a wren hopping around in the front garden. What’s the connection with this photo? Well, ‘my’ wren might be paying me frequent visits because it’s finding food. Not the seeds and fatballs that are popular with the sparrows and starlings, but the insects it prefers – and I hope there are more now, thanks to the mini log piles I added to the garden last spring.
In spring and summer 2020, as I spent more time at home, I started to pay closer attention to the wildlife in my garden. One way I did this was by taking part in the local wildlife trust’s How wild are we? citizen science project, recording my plants and the insects and birds that visited. Around the same time, I joined Team Wilder, and was inspired by what other members were doing to help pollinating insects. Having persuaded my partner not to pull up the ‘weeds’ at our front gate, I made a sign to tell passersby why they were there – to take #ActionForInsects. Only a few days later, a delivery driver noticed it, and we had a chat about wilder gardens.
Another wildlife-friendly change I made was to put a hedgehog hole in the fence, together with a Hedgehog Highway sign to raise awareness – it would be great if more people did this, as hedgehogs need to roam quite far to get enough to eat. I provided food and water during the warm, dry summer, and soon the hogs came. The most we counted were six eating together! But my favourite thing was just listening to them in the dark, as they rooted around in the undergrowth.
2020 was a special year for wildlife in my small suburban garden. We’re on a busy road, part of a terrace, but we have alleys at the back and side. We also have Peartree Green local nature reserve a few minutes’ walk away. Maybe this is why we had a couple of unexpected visitors – a grey squirrel on the shed roof, and a week before Christmas, a red fox in the front garden at six in the morning. That was a memorable encounter, but possibly my favourite first was the greenfinch, presumably nesting nearby as he visited my sunflower seed feeder daily. I learned his call, and listened out for him as he perched at the top of our silver birch. Sometimes he was joined by a female, and once or twice they came with two juveniles. They were new and exciting, but my regular gang of starlings continue to entertain me every morning and will probably be my ‘star’ birds for years to come!