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For many of us, our gardens, back yards and balconies have become our sanctuaries. Whilst many things are currently standing still, spring certainly is not one of them! We can still enjoy wildlife from the comfort of our own homes by simply looking through the window or sitting in the garden. We wonder what you have seen this week or will see over the coming weeks?

Wildlife has a wonderful way of lifting our spirits and can bring a smile to our day. Here are some smiles to look out for in our gardens.

Social Twitching

Blue TitThe colourful mix of blue, yellow, white and green of the blue tit makes this one of Britain’s most-loved garden birds.

Encourage our feathered-friends into our gardens with peanuts in bird feeders. If you have a couple of blue tits in your garden you will be heartened to learn that you are actually feeding several more, as families of blue tits group together to feed each other – demonstrating that it is not just us humans who practice community spirit! The house sparrow came in #1 place this January in the world’s largest wildlife survey – Birdwatch 2020.

Can you spot a house sparrow from a tree sparrow? Whether you like to wait for your friendly robin who pops down for worms when you’re weeding or if you look out of the window every morning to ogle regular visitors to your bird feeder, now is a super time to take up bird twitching. And why not get social with your twitching by joining the RSPB’s huge online birdwatch community to log your garden visitors.

Which garden bird are you?

Just for fun, why not play this RSPB game to find which bird alter-ego you are!

Hedgehog Cafe Open for Business!

The UK population of our much loved Mrs. Tiggywinkle – aka the adorable hedgehog washerwoman in the Lake District’s famous Peter Rabbit and Friends storybooks – is alarmingly in decline. But, it’s very easy to give our shy, prickly friends a home in our gardens and summer is the perfect time to do this.

Hedgehogs are actually very hungry little creatures and so now is the perfect time to attract them, as they build up their energy reserves for their long winter slumber.

  • To build your own hedgehog cafe, first consider that any food you leave out will also attract predators, like cats and foxes.
  • Pop bricks on top of your cafe to stop larger wildlife tipping your mini-restaurant over!
  • You also need to make sure you have a ‘wildlife highway’ that allows hedgehogs to come in and out of your garden or patio to pay a visit to your cafe.
  • Find a really safe place for your ‘hog cafe’, which is in effect a feeding station consisting of a plastic or wooden box with a lid and a small opening (13cm square) that will fit hedgehogs but keep larger wildlife and local cats out. Cover any sharp edges with duct tape. Dog or cat food is popular on the menu, only leaving small portions (to ensure repeat custom!) and don’t forget a refreshing bowl of water (not milk).

If you have had customers overnight, try and spot your new garden visitors by setting yourself up one evening once the sun has gone down and wait for the snuffling

Share the Love

By now you have probably started to see the odd bumblebee or first butterfly fluttering about certain plants and flowers in your garden.

Perhaps they are pottering in and around your newly planted balcony pots. These will likely be filled with wildlife magnets such as; Agapanthus, Eryngium (sea holly), Euphorbia, Geranium, Helianthus, Iris, Lysimachia, ornamental grasses, Primula, Salvia and lovely Sedums.

Well, now is a good time to take some cuttings or divide plants to bolster your stock of wildlife-attracting flowers and plants. You may even have enough plants to share with neighbours or local schools and nurseries.

Who Needs TV?

Sick of binging on Netflix and Disney+ yet? Invest in a pre-made birdbath or easily rustle up your own from bits you have around the garden, and you’ll be glued to an Oscar-worthy performance from your garden birds in no time.

Pop on some Tchaikovsky and watch as flocks of starlings and blackbirds swoop back and forth, circling around and around, to take a dip in the fresh rainwater bath.

Summer is a critical time for garden birds where fresh water is at a shortage. From cooling off to grooming (keeping their feathers in stage-worthy condition) there’s no doubt that your garden birds will be grateful.

Groundhog Day

Drag the tent and groundsheets down from the loft or garage and take up camp in your garden for a couple of nights to see the ‘other side’ of your quiet and tranquil hideaway. If you have left appropriate food out you may see hedgehogs or a lone fox.

Bats are most active over summer months and happily put on a wonderful display at dusk, likely circling your house as you settle down with a drink ready to enjoy nature’s nighttime wildlife. The morning bird chorus will be an experience like no-other with road and air traffic reduced at the moment, leaving the airways open to the soundtrack of nature.

What a special time to enjoy it. With the weather being so good at the moment there have also been some superb sunsets to soak up as well as lovely clear skies, with reduced pollution, giving way to jaw-dropping star displays.

Have you spotted the bright planets of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter or Saturn? Read all about Exploring Cumbria’s dark Skies here.