A few weeks ago I was asked by the junior branch of the Wildlife Trusts; Wildlife Watch, to write a guest post on anything I wanted to, I ran a few ideas past them and was asked to go ahead with this one. I got the idea for this post because living in a fairly urbanised area it is hard for me to get to my nearest reserve, which is around forty minutes away; as a result I spend most of my wildlife watching in my garden and therefore thought that I should write a blog post on this in order to encourage people to appreciate their gardens more. Here is the post on the Wildlife Watch’s website- http://wildlifewatch.org.uk/backyard- jungle , hope you enjoy it.
Your backyard, and indeed all backyards, have been a refuge for wildlife for countless decades; deer, badgers, hedgehogs, slow worms, grass snakes and hundreds of thousands of other species of wildlife make their home in the humble green patch known as the garden.
You’ve just got to know where to look, because many people simply don’t appreciate that a garden can be a very special and mysterious place. Next time you walk, run or even just stand in your garden, take the time to look around and really notice nature – the male blue jays strutting and pouncing in the leafy green tree tops, the mischievous magpies, the secretive badgers, the ponderous, prickly hedgehogs, the glossy ladybirds, even the tall winding grass; yes, your back garden really is a jungle.
I went out today, as I do many days, and the amount of wildlife I saw in just a small part of my garden was amazing. A chaffinch called haltingly from a dark maple, whilst the jealous calls of two fluffed up chaffinches rang out from a nearby bush, the smashed remains of a poor snail hailed a visit from the song thrush, and a small slow worm was grumpily woken (my mistake, must remember never to do that again!) from a deep sleep under a compost heap.
A large, fiery red hornet droned menacingly past me – as if to dare me to get closer (quite good natured actually, but with a powerfully painful sting!), whilst his smaller cousins, the paper wasps, darted in and out of vine leaves and old wooden planks, where one proceeded to chew wood from the top to use for a nest. A stripe winged grasshopper and his rivals buzzed and chirped in a contest of pure sound from the grassy verges of the garden path, whilst all manner of hover flies rode the air as they swooped in for a taste of nectar from the wildflowers raising their heads occasionally from the grass.
Three red kites patrolled the air above me, ducking and diving as they chased away each other and the large, invading herring gulls, screaming their defiance to the winds. There were jackdaws pacing the roof, and the plant pots – if you looked carefully enough – were coated underneath with a layer of woodlice and the occasional garden snail (asleep, as always!). The bushes were full of clinging spiders of all different sizes and shapes; large speckled common garden spiders, small, black, mouse spiders and striped wolf spiders, trapping unfortunate bugs in their sticky webs.
Wow, we almost forgot the butterflies! Peacocks, meadow browns, speckled woods, gatekeepers, skippers, red admirals and of course the cabbage whites; all at one point or another have winged their way around your backyard, frustratingly out of reach of your butterfly net! Those of you who have a pond in your garden will have had the pleasure of seeing mayflies, dragonflies and damselflies, all masters of the skies, the latter zooming and out of plant stems as they snap up mosquitoes in the midday sun.
So you see, I found all of that in the space of about two hours; it shows the fantastic variety of animals that can live in what seems like such a small area. I’ve got one task for you now – go out into your garden and experience it for the jungle that it actually is; stuffed full to the brim with wildlife, all chattering, calling, chirping, tapping and munching for attention!