Winter can be a difficult time for wildlife and with the plummeting temperatures over the last week or two, animals and birds need to find places to shelter from the frosty weather. While some wildlife stock up in autumn and hibernate through the winter, others face the daily challenge of finding food and water to see them through to spring.
During our survey this summer, we identified lots of different wildlife that were living in our gardens and grounds and our team are doing their part to ensure we can help them through the winter season. Here are just a few of the initiatives we are taking at Rufflets.
Feed the birds
During other seasons of the year we typically have an abundance of fruit that grows in our gardens that birds feast upon. In the winter months when this disappears we ensure that our bird feeders are kept stocked with with nuts and seeds to help supplement their diet.
Giving them a place to call their own
Making sure birds have a place to call home in the winter months is just as important as providing food and water. We make sure that our hedges are not chopped back too much to provide shelter for them and bird boxes around the grounds also make great shelter. We are lucky that we have lots of water around the grounds that they can bathe in.
Creating homes for hedgehogs
Hedgehogs are in decline across the UK, so it’s very important we do our part to protect the hedgehogs that visit our garden during the winter months. Hedgehogs hibernate to bypass the coldest months of the year but they do not hibernate continuously. Their hibernation may only last a few days at a time. Ensuring there is food and water for them as well as an area they can be safe falls to our gardening team who have created an area in the kitchen garden where they won’t be disturbed.
A feast for wildlife
Pumpkins left-over from Halloween can be used in a couple of different ways to supplement the diet of wildlife. Seeds can be dried out and used in bird-feed and if you have carved out pumpkins – try placing them in the garden for squirrels to feast on. Pumpkins that we have grown and can’t be used in the kitchen are added to our compost heap. Pumpkin flesh is full of water and breaks down quickly. Worms and insects love it!
Insects have a place too
Insects are also looking for places to shelter and hide. The area set aside for hedgehogs works equally well for smaller creatures. Making stick and log piles out of old branches and twigs can provide refuge over the winter months for a lot of different insects.
Protecting the red squirrels
We enjoy seeing plenty of red squirrels in the gardens at Rufflets. They don’t hibernate, but are far less active, sleeping for longer periods and we tend to spot them less over the winter months. A plentiful supply of pine seeds in the gardens ensure they have a constant supply of food but we like to leave a little more by areas where we have spotted their dreys.
Do take an opportunity to wander around our gardens and grounds if you are visiting this winter!