This year, in spite of the very mixed weather, we have seen a vast array of wildlife in our cottage garden. The key, I believe, is to create plenty of habitat and plant coverage. Creatures need somewhere to live but, in order to venture into our gardens, wildlife also needs a place to feel safe. That is why hedgerows, areas left to natural growth and shrubs are helpful, for they provide cover. Where wildlife can move discreetly, it will feel safe and so will visit and, in time, return often.
Here, you will note that we have placed our bird feeder table, and water bath, beside a hedgerow. I planted the hedge eight or nine years ago. It is formed of hornbeam, wild rose, hawthorn, hazel, blackthorn and forsythia, mainly. The birds adore it. They tend to nest in the woodland beside our cottage but they are daily visitors to the hedgerow, where they will now find insects, invertebrates, amphibians and small mammals aplenty. Placing the feeder table close to the hedgerow means that the more discreet, or even shy, creatures will invariably step forward. This is a joy to watch.
One visitor, who is now a regular, is the squirrel. The squirrel leaps into the hedge, from the woodland, and then leaps onto the bird feeler and water bath, where the remains of birdseed, water and a good bath are enjoyed. I cannot help but smile when I see this busy little acrobat, leaping around our patio area, where the bird feeder table and bath are located. There is always such a sense of urgency in every move it makes but an inquisitive nature that almost demands of it to stay and play or investigate further.
Do you have squirrels visiting your garden?
(C) Dean G. Parsons. ‘2019).