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Roger Hance - wildlife in gardens

Roger Hance talked about wildlife in gardens

PAWS January – Wildlife in Gardens

Roger Hance came to PAWS to show the delights of Wildlife present in the Garden.  His slide talk showed some of the wildlife that can be found in our gardens. Because a lot of the natural hedgerows in our countryside are diminishing, it is increasingly more important that we try to help our wildlife out by turning our gardens into habitats that will encourage birds, mammals and insects to live in.

Attracting Birds

Roger gave some useful tips which can help attract more birds to your garden.  Consider digging a pond or provide drinking water in a birdbath, plant some dog roses, in which house sparrows like to nest for protection from predators, and the flowering shrub candytuft which harbours slugs, snails and caterpillars, favourite foods of the song thrush.  He had everybody laughing at a particularly endearing photo of a very wet woodpecker, it was gorgeous but vulnerable.

It is important to use seeds, fat and suet balls for the birds and not dry bread as it swells in their throats and can choke them.  Also, it is advisable to choose a site near to some shrubs or trees for your feeding stations to provide some cover for the birds.

Common & not so common visitors

Roger displayed superb slides of the various birds, insects and animals which frequently visit his garden and sometimes even shyly approach his kitchen and eat out of his hand.  Among the long list of visitors are robins, great spotted woodpeckers, blue tits, long tailed tits, starlings and dunnocks and many more.  Magpies have a bad reputation for stealing chicks and eggs but are not alone in this as Jays and Woodpeckers are guilty too.  Starlings are outstanding mimics and incorporate accurate copies of sounds of other birds, frogs and mammals.  They have been known to copy telephones and even car alarms!

Of course with a large number of birds frequenting the garden it isn’t long before you attract predators like the Sparrowhawk.  They can manage to carry off a bird nearly the size of themselves.  Also, they have their chicks a few weeks later than most other birds so of course, they have a large supply of newly born chicks readily available.

Plants to attract butterflies & moths

Large planted areas attract various butterflies and moths. There are around fifty-five varieties of Butterfly in the country and approximately two thousand five hundred Moths.  Roger has a Moth Trap set up in his garden where in the morning he can examine them before they are released.  So far he has recorded seventy different species.   One of the easiest ways to tell the difference between a Butterfly and a Moth is to look at the Antennae.  A Butterfly’s antennae are club-shaped with a long shaft and a bulb at the end.  A Moth’s antennae are feathery or saw-edged.

The clarity and detail in the photos of the Damselflies, Dragonflies, Wood Ants and Leaf-cutter Bees was amazing.  Dragonflies operate each wing independently, it’s fore and hindwings are controlled by separate muscles.  The easiest way to differentiate between a Dragonfly and a Damselfly is to look at how it holds its wings while resting.  If they’re lying flat, parallel to the ground you are looking at a Dragonfly.  If the wings are pressed together and held over the insect’s back, you are looking at a Damselfly.  It was an inspiration to us all.

Next Meeting

PAWS’ next meeting is on Tuesday, February 27th, when Peter Garner is going to talk about “A Sea Dog called Bamse” (a WW2 Canine Hero). PAWS welcomes visitors at a cost of £5.00 which includes refreshments.

Details of all meetings and speakers are on the diary of the home page of this website. If you would like further information about PAWS please ring either of the following committee members:

  • Lorraine Davies 01206 735348 or
  • Jane Anderson 01206 735239.