Wildlife Watch with Kate Humble

Blue tit Parus caeruleus, perched on edge of garden bird bath.  Co. Durham. July.
Blue tit Parus caeruleus, perched on edge of garden bird bath. Co. Durham. July.

May is a bit of a ‘will they, won’t they?’ month in the garden as we wait to see if the things we planted grow successfully. Late, sharp spring frosts can wreak havoc on our efforts and there can be a lot of too-ing and fro-ing between windowsills, greenhouses and patios to make sure delicate seedlings survive until it’s safe to plant them out!

If you are looking to grow flowers, try to plant a variety so you and insects have a good show throughout the summer. Aubretia and forget-me-not are good in spring, while lavender and Michaelmas daisy are good later in the year. Don’t forget nocturnal insects too; night-scented stock and evening primrose are good for moths. Bigger, brighter, longer lasting flowers often come at a cost. The effort to produce showy multi-petals is at the expense of the pollen and nectar which insects need to survive so it’s worth asking an expert at the garden centre which plants are native.

You might want to plant round recently created ponds this month too. Many pond plants should come with an environmental health warning and be avoided at all costs! Once they get into the wild they clog waterways, destroying wildlife and costing lots of money to control and eradicate. A good general rule, is that if it’s not in a British wildflower book and you don’t recognise the name, don’t buy it!

There will be plenty to see when you’re working or relaxing in the garden this month, with migrant birds arriving and lots of butterflies and other insects active. Some of our common birds such as blackbirds and robins will have their first broods flying about in the garden. Although they might not be very good at it yet and look helpless, leave them alone as their parents will be nearby waiting to feed them. If you have a cat, try to not let it out too early in the morning or late in the evening when birds are more actively feeding. It helps if you can fit them with a quick release collar too.

Finally, if you’re indoors of an evening later this month, settle down and enjoy BBC Springwatch, we’ll be finding all sorts of wonderful wildlife a bit further afield for you!

Kate

To find out more visit www.rspb.org.uk