British Wildflower Daisies

Your Local Natural World

Natural World Safaris

Charlotte Field

24 Mar 2020

Concerned you won’t be able to get your usual dose of nature in these current times? Now is the perfect time to explore nature in your own local natural world.

Whether that be looking out for regular wildlife that call your garden their home, setting up camera traps to capture shy animals that forage around, identify tracks from those you’ve already missed or tips on how to draw wildlife to your area. At Natural World Safaris, we are here to help you make the most of your wildlife experiences whilst at home. 

Peacock Butterfly on British Wildflower

Camera Traps

Unless you want to spend the whole day staring out of your window - and even then you may not get the best results - we suggest setting camera traps around your garden to capture all types of creatures and critters. There may be areas of your garden that are hidden from view or other activities, places where you’ve scattered food, or areas you know nocturnal animals are likely to go at night, placing your camera traps in the right place will mean that you get the best view of wildlife.

Choose a camera trap

Whether this be a bird feeder camera trap, a nestling camera trap - it is dependent on your garden’s terrain. You can also have triggered and non-triggered cameras - this is dependent on how long you want the camera out in your garden and how much footage you are willing to scroll through to see the animal encounters.

Choose where to place it in your garden

In view of feeders you have placed out or within hidden areas of your garden. Look for regular paths or tracks. Is there a tree near it that you can attach the camera to, or a flat surface you can place it on?

Set up the camera feed

How long are you going to keep it out for? Is it a daily check, or a project you want to keep out longer? Make sure to weather-proof the camera trap - seal it well, weather-proof duct tape comes in very handy. Make sure your cables are good quality too and that you have spares just in case!

Wait for the critters to come to you 

Don’t disturb your camera very often, even just to check on it. You’ll leave your scent around if you do, and by leaving the area untouched it will give you the best chance of capturing some great footage.

View your footage

See which wildlife comes to your garden - are there any surprises? Have a research of your area and see what other animals could be about and is there a way for you to spot these too?

 

NWS would love to hear stories from your own back garden and what wildlife you have captured there.



British Bee on Flower

What kind of animals to look for: Bees

We are all aware of the importance and the plight of the bumblebee. Our furry little friends are in sharp decline and yet they are critical to our entire ecosystem – they are worth looking after! One of the main ways you can help bees is to avoid pesticides, herbicides and general weed-killing chemicals on your gardens and lawns alongside planting the right flowers for them. There is a cohesive guide to gardening for bumblebees here, where you will find a host of colourful and beautiful flowers you can plant at home to encourage the bees.

This time of year is ideal for spotting emerging bumblebees in your garden. As temperatures rise, queen bees will come out of hibernation. Queens are much larger and furrier than their male counterparts, so they’re easy to spot! After an entire winter underground, queen bees will need to collect nectar from flowers to regain energy. Good flowers for bees at this time include primroses (try and get native UK primroses, they much prefer these). Later in the year bees will feed on a host of UK wildflowers, including dandelions! Dandelions are a rich food source for bees, insects and butterflies. If you want to encourage nature in your garden, don’t treat them as weeds, let them grow and feed the bees.

Click here for a guide on identifying bumblebees. You can also get involved in bee surveys to help monitor population sizes, or purchase a bee hotel!

Gatekeeper Butterfly

What kind of animals to look for: Butterflies

Butterflies are gorgeous creatures and with many native to the UK and only about for a short time, now is a great time to spot butterflies. 

 

There are numerous species to look out for. These include, but are not limited to:

Peacock butterfly

Small tortoiseshell butterfly

Speckled wood butterfly

Red admiral butterfly

Painted lady butterfly

Green veined white butterfly

Orange tipped butterfly

Common blue butterfly

 

You can attract certain butterflies into your garden. Plant nectar-rich plants and shrubs, leave out fruit, create a specific area from them with leaves and twigs or even an ornamental butterfly house.

Why not create your own butterfly chart and record what you see. Check out the Wildlife Trust’s guide to identifying butterflies. 

Chaffinch on a twig

What kind of animals to look for: Birds

Bird behaviours are fascinating to watch and can be mesmerising for hours. Attracting birds to your garden is a great way to see a variety of species in a short space of time. 

The UK is not short on wonderful species, and just a few include:

Blackbirds

Robins 

Finches

Collared Dove

Starling

Magpie

Jay

Wren

 

Providing food and shelter in your garden protects the young birds from predators. 

Keep your feeders well stocked and bird baths topped up to ensure the best environment for your visitors. Keep them away from the house, in a spacious area for comfort. Offering nesting materials also gives them more opportunities to frequent your garden. 

Each bird is different with its own unique habits. If there is a specific bird that is local to your area and you wish to attract and see it, source out its favourite food or nesting material and place it in prime view. 

British Fox

What kind of animals to look out for: Mammals

It isn’t just the creatures that can fly in and out of your garden that makes for a good spot. There is a variety of mammals that frequent the garden - both in the day and at night. 

 

During the day, squirrels, rabbits, and mice may visit - this is especially dependent on the fauna and flora you already have in your garden. Easy access points or nearby woods may attract these animals even more. Depending on the size of your garden, and whether it is fenced off or not, deer may frequent too.

 

At night, the nocturnal creatures may arrive. This is where camera traps are handy - especially if you are already in bed - as these creatures can be curious to watch. Foxes, which are currently denning right now, may venture out for food and hedgehogs may scurry across the garden too. There are ways to draw the hedgehogs in, with food and water to help sustain them. 

 

Is there a water area in your garden? This is a unique chance to habits that you may not necessarily see otherwise. Hedgehogs can swim - just make sure the water is shallow - and the fish may provide a source of food for others.

 

Cornflowers - British Wildflowers

The best ways to attract wildlife to your garden: Wildflowers

One of the best ways to attract critters into your garden is through wildflowers. If you plant wildflowers that are native to your area, it’s a great way to get bees, insects, and butterflies into your garden. Now is a good time to buy seeds or plug plants, primroses are such pretty plants and if you buy them with their plug-roots in you can just pop them in the soil, wait for them to bloom and watch the wildlife roll in.

 

Some of just the amazing wildflowers you can find locally - and are just as pretty as the wildlife themselves - are:

  • Primroses (UK ones- e.g. not the blue or coloured ones, they are a pale yellow with orange centres)
  • Dog Rose – Rosa canina.
  • Honeysuckle – Caprifoliaceae.
  • Enchanter's nightshade – Circaea lutetiana.
  • Columbine – Aquilegia.
  • Kingcup – Caltha palustris.
  • Cornflower – Centaurea cyanus.
  • Water avens – Geum rivale.
  • Forget-me-not – Myosotis.
  • Scarlet pimpernel - Anagallis arvensis
  • Ragged robin - Lychnis flos-cucl

Remember to plant sunny flowers in sunny areas and shady flowers in shady areas to get the best possible results!

Now is the perfect time to start planting and you can still order seeds from here

Nuthatch on a birdfeeder

The best ways to attract wildlife to your garden: Snacks and Treats

Providing a source of food for various creatures and critters is a great way to spot the local wildlife - and keep them visiting your garden again and again. Becoming a trusted source of food will result in some great captures of some truly fascinating wildlife. 

One of the best ways to attract local animals is to plant native plants within your garden. These are a great source of natural food for local wildlife and a guarantee that you know it is good for them. Include plants that are essential for a wildlife diet; such as pollen, fruits, berries, nuts, and seeds. Also include food sources for insects, as not only are they interesting to watch too, but they can also then provide a source of food for other animals. 

Have a think about which kind of local animals you would like to see in your garden, and tailor the plants to those animal tastes. Similarly, see if there are other types of food - not necessarily grown - that you could put out and provide. Birdbaths and fat balls are a great way to do this. 

We wouldn’t suggest leaving leftover food or scraps out as this may attract rats and other unsavory rodents and also cover any rubbish bins that are in your garden. Similarly, avoid using pesticides and other chemicals in your garden generally. If the animals are using your garden as a source of food, you don’t want to risk hurting them.

Blackbird with Nesting Materials

The best ways to attract wildlife to your garden: Nesting Materials

With springtime coming around, one great way to attract local birds into your garden is by providing nesting material. 

Nesting material is any kind of material a bird may use when constructing a nest. It provides protection, cushioning, insulation and camouflage for the eggs and chicks. Bird parents can be very selective about their choice of material, but provide a selection and you’ll have birds frequent your garden because of it. 

Make sure your garden is bird-friendly will ensure the best environment for the creatures and a safe space for them to be in. Birds will use a variety of materials to construct one nest, usually found around the local area. Providing supplementary sources can be useful for them and wonderful for you to watch. Materials include - but are not limited to - twigs, yarn or thread, feathers, animal fur, moss, grass clippings, dead leaves, pine needles, cotton balls, shredded paper, and small pebbles. 

Placing the materials is different areas of your garden, with a variety of materials, may attract different species of birds. You can drape the material over trees or shrubbery in your garden, or need bird feeders you may already have up. You can create piles in corners of your garden when they won’t blow away or hang them in a visible mesh bag for easy reach. 

It is best to remember, always be bird-friendly with your materials and you may get some new visitors to your garden.

 

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