I’ve read all the jokes, heard all the parody songs and seen all of the comedy sketches. People love to make fun of us East Anglians! My teachers used to say that people who take the mickey out of you are simply jealous, and I can certainly believe that. I would envy people who lived here if I didn’t myself. Although, with over 70% of the land in East Anglia farmed, I can understand how we are easy targets! But, it’s one of my favourite things about living here. If ever I go away for the weekend, the sight of Norfolk approaching in the distance on my return home is always welcome. The patchwork fields, the regimented hay bales, the quirky farm houses sprinkled across the countryside. And of course the farmland wildlife. I always keep my eyes peeled to the sky when I take the train home. Always in the hope that I’ll see a crane glide past, or a barn owl waiting patiently for a dinner catch. Farmland is such a dominant part of our county and it plays an incredibly important part in the health of our countryside, especially when farmed in a wildlife friendly way, but we mustn’t overlook how valuable our own spaces can be for the same purpose. Whether you have a large house with acres of garden or you live in a city centre town house, your garden is your very own patch to farm in a wildlife friendly way.
Across the whole of the UK, our garden space adds up to over half a million hectares - that’s the size of Norfolk! It is no secret that some of our garden birds are struggling. If we could all make that half a million hectares a little more wildlife friendly, we could be well on the way to turning their fortunes around. It might seem cold and miserable outside, but with the snow melted and the turn of the month upon us, it is a great time to get outdoors and into your garden. One of the easiest things that you can do is to put up a bird box. Now is the perfect time to do this too as all sorts of birds start looking for potential nest sites and smaller garden birds look for some shelter in the cold evenings. Snuggling into a bird box helps them to conserve energy and stay safe while the bitter winter nights take hold. As well as this, planting nectar rich flowers and shrubs is another great way of keeping your garden alive with butterflies and creepy crawlies, always great for keeping a garden healthy.
It may not be spring just yet, but when it comes to our local wildlife, planning ahead is warmly welcomed. And looking to the spring will certainly help to lift our spirits too. For more information on making your garden a home for wildlife, visit www.rspb.org.uk/hfw/
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