Finding myself confined to my house and garden I have been watching the comings and goings of the wildlife in my garden in more detail. Previously I have been aware of what is in my garden but not had a chance to watch them so closely. I started making a list of birds, which unsurprisingly didn’t differ much from my Big Garden Birdwatch list:  

2 wood pigeons, 2 collared Doves, 2 Robins, 10  (approx.) House sparrows, 1 Dunnock, 2 Blackbirds (nesting), 2 Blue tits (occasionally)! 

I have also seen three little egrets on my occasional trips out – one by the side of the road! In my front garden there is a pair of starlings who come to collect nesting material. There are also four crows who make trips into the field opposite me and come back with sticks for nest building. They don’t nest in my garden but obviously somewhere nearby. The house sparrows are incredibly noisy chatting away most of the day and are busy making nests, tugging away at various plants.    

Water is a vital component in the garden and is something easily added. Small ponds can be made out of almost anything that holds water. I have a pond which has frogspawn in it as well as resident frogs, and a birdbath and both are proving to be very popular with the birds.  

My hedgehogs have woken up in the last couple of weeks leaving little signs behind!  

It is important to remember not to be too tidy in the garden and leave some things for wildlife. I have a pile of wood on top of a mini pallet for the hedgehogs, whilst cutting back perennials I left some pieces lying around and these are being gathered up for nesting material. An area of bare soil which I recently weeded sparrows are using for dustbathing. It is worth leaving some patches of weeds/ wildflowers  for the wildlife to enjoy. Dandelions, white and red deadnettles are all vital for pollinators at the moment. Jack-by-the-hedge or hedge mustard is a valuable food source for a number of insects including the orange butterfly. Violets and primroses are flowering in profusion. If you can leave some nettles in a corner somewhere it is a larval food of many butterflies such as the peacock, coma and small tortoiseshell. Last weekend’s sunny weather brought out the first holly blue (living in some ivy in my garden), peacock and tortoiseshell butterflies in my garden.  

I just put the rubbish out and discovered the crows nest is in my neighbour’s chimney. Even the most mundane task can reap some benefits and even a small back garden can be a valuable mini nature reserve! 

Images: Bird Bath; Jack-by-the-hedge; peacock butterfly (c) RSPB, Nick Aikman