Last year saw a huge surge in interest in garden wildlife and many people took great comfort from connecting with nature at a very challenging time. With the bird nesting season not yet upon us, now is an ideal time to think about ways to attract birds to our gardens and to give them a helping hand by installing a nest box or two. Not only will a well sited robust nest box boost the breeding chances of birds, many of which still struggle to find nesting spots, boxes will double up as roosting sites on cold winter nights for small species such as wrens.
Harsh winter conditions can present real problems for small birds and they don’t come much smaller than the wren – with records showing as many as 30 of these delightful tiny birds squeezing into a nest box to keep warm.
As well as being a good time to put up a nest box or two, if you don’t already feed the birds in your garden now is a great time to start, as natural supplies of seeds, nuts and berries reach their low point and before the majority of insect food starts to appear as the weather warms. By filling this ‘hungry gap’ you will be helping birds at a very challenging time of year and if you plan to continue feeding, you’ll also establish your garden as a great place for birds to visit – increasing your chances of some welcome wildlife watching later in the year.
Away from your garden, there is plenty of wildlife to enjoy as the days get noticeably longer causing nature to stir and signs of spring to emerge. With branches still leafless, birds such as the nuthatch will be easier to spot and leafless woods and hedgerows also mean you’ve got a better chance of spotting large animals on the edges of woodland such as roe deer – so if you live locally, why not visit one of our North Notts woodlands such as Dyscarr Wood at Langold or Treswell Wood near Retford to see what you can spot?
Along the hedgerows and beneath the branches you should be able to spot the welcome yellow of primrose flowers and from a distance flushes of snowdrops can resemble a dusting of late winter snow.
On wetland sites such as Idle Valley Nature Reserve near Retford and our Attenborough Nature Reserve early breeding behaviour will have begun, with the most obvious signs being the graceful courtship rituals of the stunning great crested grebe.
Our nature reserves remain open for outdoor exercise but we are asking people to stay local and to think twice before driving to our sites. We have nature reserves right across the county so do take the opportunity to explore sites close to home whilst taking your daily exercise. At the time of writing, our café at Idle Valley also remains open for take away food and drink but please check our website for the latest updates.
Details of all our nature reserves as well as online events and campaigns can be found at www.nottinghamshirewildlife.org.
Images: Nuthatch © Jon Hawkins; Blue Tit © Emma Coalwood; Roe Dear © John Smith