Caring for Wildlife
Garden Wildlife in Douglas
Living in a rural area, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to wildlife. From garden visitors such as hedgehogs and squirrels, to ducks and swans at stable lake, there countless different species for you to spot.
Any food you give to wildlife should be supplemental to their diet, and not replace it. You do not want wildlife to depend on you for food. A great way to attract wildlife to your garden can be planting vegetation that will provide a continuous food source. Below are a list of some frequent visitors, and how you can safely help them out.
Insects are a a vital part of the ecosystem, with some pollinating our vegetation, and others as important food sources for animals such as badgers and hedgehogs.
There are many things you can do to encourage bugs to live in your garden, from creating 'bug hotels' made out of wood and bamboo, to planting suitable plants and flowers that attract them.
British wildflower mixes containing flowers such as Foxglove, Native Red Clover, Cornflower, and Wild Marjoram, are particularly beneficial to bee colonies.
Ducks are small and agile birds and will visit ponds of all sizes, so if you have a small pond in your back garden you might find yourself with some visitors! Ducks will also be found at larger bodies of water, such as Stable Lake or the Flood Water, and feeding them while on your walk can be a great way to see them up close.
You should avoid feeding ducks bread, as it is is very filling with little nutrition, meaning birds will be missing out on vital nutrition. Instead, feed them seeds or bird feed. Ducks also eat small insects, so you can also consider feeding them dried or live mealworms, as they are packed with protein. Any food you feed birds should supplement their natural diet, rather than replace it, as you don't want them to have to depend on you for food.
Swans are large birds and need a lot of space to take off (more than 20m!), they are unlikley to visit small ponds, however, they are a common sight at Stable Lake.
As with ducks, you should avoid feeding swans bread, as it is is very filling with little nutrition, meaning birds will be missing out on vital nutrition. Instead, feed them seeds or bird feed. Any food you feed birds should supplement their natural diet, rather than replace it, as you dont want them to have to depend on you for food.
Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals, and can hibernate over the winter months in piles of leaves, compost heaps, and piles of sticks. This is why it is extremely important to check these places (especially bonfires) before you disturb them.
Please do not feed hedgehogs bread or milk, as these can make them extremely unwell. Instead, water, cat food or specialist hedgehog food like Spike's is a better choice. In the wild, they will typically eat slugs, earthworms and beetles.
Making your garden hedgehog friendly can help these little visitors hunt safely for food in your garden. By providing a safe route in and out of your garden by making a small hole in a hedge or fence, this allows the hedgehogs to safely travel in search of food.
Badgers are shy creatures, and can be hard to catch a glimpse of, even in rural areas. They can sometimes be seen crossing gardens and roads in search of food, and like hedgehogs they are also nocturnal. If you are lucky enough to spot them, take care not to frighten them, as if spooked, they will likely not return to that area again.
A badgers natural diet consists of fruit, nuts insects, and even bulbs. If leaving food for badgers, sticking to leftover fruit and nuts is the best approach.
Badgers live in underground setts, made up of a maze of tunnels. These setts can have up to 100 entrances, and they will spend a lot of time in these sets during winter. Badgers are protected by the Badger Prohibition Act, which means they must not be treated badly. If you are aware of anyone capturing, killing, or hurting badgers or damaging their setts, you must report it to the police.