Wildlife Watch with Kate Humble

Robin, Erithacus rubecula, perched on bowl of windfall apples in garden. Co. Durham. October.

Robin, Erithacus rubecula, perched on bowl of windfall apples in garden. Co. Durham. October.

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Brrrrr, winter is definitely here, the trees are bare, although it’s still mild enough to be out in the garden. Whether or not you’ve got jobs to do, you can still indulge in a bit of birdwatching. You might hear fieldfares or redwings calling overhead, or they may even come into your garden. Both species love apples, so trying leaving some halved apples on your lawn to see if that attracts them.

 

Look out for flocks of long-tailed tits making their way through the trees and bushes in your garden too. They are very vocal, so you will always hear them before you see them. They occasionally come to my feeders, and they are exquisite little birds.

 

I’ve been plucking up the courage to prune my fruit trees. Reducing stems, removing dead ones, and crossing branches helps keep bushes open and promote better fruiting. I just always worry I might snip the wrong bit!

 

My vegetable beds are all dug over. Its heavy work but at this time of year it keeps you warm and I leave the clumps of soil to be broken down by the frosts, which is a lot easier than doing it myself. Let nature do the work for you!

 

If you’ve got a rather shady area of garden that looks a bit bare and drab, why not consider ordering some hellebores and try and get them planted this month? Hellebores are great for late winter and early spring colour and are good for any bees which may venture from hibernation on a warm day.

 

With Christmas just around the corner and many shops being closed over the holiday, make sure you’re stocked up with enough bird food to keep your regulars fed, especially if as last year, the weather suddenly turns cold. Once the birds know there’s a supply of food to be had, they’ll keep coming back for more. Fat balls are always a favourite and a great source of energy. Just make sure you remove the mesh bags they often come packaged in as birds can get their feet and beaks caught up in it.

 

Have a great Christmas!

 

Kate

 

For bird food and a range of gifts and accessories visit www.rspbshop.co.uk