Lots you can do to support wildlife in winter

birds feeding in the snow - picture by Donald MacLeod 09.02.09
birds feeding in the snow - picture by Donald MacLeod 09.02.09

I WAS starting to think that winter was never going to arrive, but the last few days have proven that it is well and truly here.

A cold snap like the one we have experienced in the last few days can cause quite a few problems for our wildlife, especially after such an unseasonally mild spell, but there are a few things you can do.

Feeding the birds is the most obvious option and will be much appreciated at times when food is scarce or frozen.

Fat balls, peanuts, seeds, fruit and bacon rinds will all go down well. You can make your own fat balls with suet or lard and plenty of seeds. Remember and keep feeders topped up as the birds can become dependent on food sources and if it disappears then they can find themselves with big problems.

Feeding birds isn’t all that you can do though. Providing fresh water is also vital as it not only provides them with somewhere to drink but also to bathe so that they can keep their feathers in prime condition so they can remain dry and warm.

Bird boxes are not just used during the summer months. They are often used by birds during the winter months to take shelter in during the night and to keep warm so if you haven’t got a bird box then this is as good a time as any to put one up. If you have one already and it was used this year then this is a good time to clean it out. Although you may think any old nesting materials may keep birds warm in winter, parasites and disease can build up in it and cause problems for birds. Best to take out any old nesting material and pour in a kettle of boiling water if it is safe to do. This will hopefully kill off anything nasty.

It is also worth starting to plan for next year, so why not think about buying or making a hedgehog box, bat box or insect hotel. You could think about where you could sow some wildflowers or where to put a log pile for amphibians to use as shelter.

Another way you can help wildlife this winter is by supporting the Berwick Swan and Wildlife Trust, such as becoming a member, donating some money or giving some of your time to help out in some way.

One way that you can help, that won’t cost you a penny or take more than a few seconds, is by using Easy Fundraising to buy goods on the internet from over 2,000 retailers and the trust will receive a small amount from your transaction, or by using Easy Search, where every time you search the web you help raise funds for the trust. More details can be found on the home page of our website.

Hopefully this winter is not going to be as harsh as the last couple, but if it is we will be doing our best to look after the wildlife and give them a fighting chance of surviving.

If we all do our bit for our wildlife then much more of it will make it through the winter to next spring and beyond.

GRAEME WILSON

Should you find an animal in need of our services, or if you need advice please phone HQ on (01289) 302882. We are happy to help. You can also e-mail via our website www.swan-trust.org. We are also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/swantrust.

If you would like to donate to the Trust (cheques payable to B.S.W.T.),or to become a member please contact treasurer, Derek Roughton. Yew Tree Cottage, Branton, Alnwick, NE66 4LW. Phone (01665) 578365. The Berwick Swan and Wildlife Trust is a registered charity in England No. 1064805.