It can be hard to get going again at the beginning of any year but this year, as we enter yet another lockdown in the darkest and coldest month (I type this as I am sat with a heater at my feet and three layers on), I think its safe to say that finding inspiration and drive to push forward is a little difficult right now. Fear not though, we have put together some simple tasks for you to break up your day with that will not only benefit your mind but wildlife too.
One of the easiest, and perhaps most beneficial things you can do is to go outside and break ice. Literally. Any ponds or other waterbodies that may be frozen over are usually one of the main water sources for birds and other brave fauna at this time of the year. Simply breaking sections along the waters edge to make water available can be so valuable but do be careful if your pond is also home to fish.
Speaking of birds, now is a great time to get your ladders out and install new bird boxes onto trees, sheds or walls around your facility, or home, in plenty of time before the nesting season begins. As a general rule of thumb, boxes are best placed facing between north and east unless of course a nearby object would cause serious shade. The RSPB has a handy guide on bird box construction and siting if you fancy getting your tools out too.
Birds need food as well, of course. As do small mammals that may venture out of hibernation this month. Whilst you may have been holding off trimming back hedgerows and other fruit-bearing shrubs so that there’s a wild source of food, it can always help to provide a supplementary source of high-energy food to help wildlife through these tough few months. Do remember that if you’re going to use bird feeders, make sure that you also give them a good clean quite frequently to avoid any hygiene issues which I am sure we are now all au fait with. I got a bottle of hand sanitiser in my Christmas stocking and in any other year I’d have been baffled by my mums thought process, but it has been my most used gift in the last week or so.
Whilst we are on the subject of Christmas, if you still have a tree hanging around or indeed still standing proudly decorated in the living room, why not create a cosy log pile in a discrete area of your garden or course to provide well-needed winter shelter. Rake up fallen leaves and include these too, if you’d like. Imagine that you’re making a snug bed that you’d be happy to take a nap in.
Lastly, why not take some time out to take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch which takes place from 29-31 January. If you haven’t done it before, it’s simple. Make yourself a brew, find a comfy perch in your garden or golf course, and record all the birds that you see in an hour. It can be a great way to brush up on your bird ID and is also helps the RSPB and wider industry understand bird numbers around the UK at this critical time of year. It’s also good for the soul and don’t we all need a bit of that right now?
Take care of yourselves this January and I’ll be back next month for more.