Help nature make a splash in the garden this July
PUBLISHED: 11:34 30 June 2018
Emily Kench of the RSPB looks ahead to wildlife in our gardens in July.
After a busy six months, nature is now slowing down and making the most of a well-earned rest. Beyond our front doors is a hue of soft green. The days are comforted by a warm summer breeze and the skies are full of swifts, swallows and martins all zipping around scooping up flying insects.
Our gardens are coming to life with many of those exact same insects, and roadside verges are punctuated with red poppy blooms. For those of us who have not gone on holiday, our gardens soon become sun
traps - and what better time to break out the deck chairs!
Tomorrow marks the start of July: a month of little rainfall. Bird baths become particularly popular throughout July, so expect queues of birds eager to splash about. Birds love to bathe at any time of the year even when the temperature sinks well below zero. But, in the height of summer, that water becomes even more tempting as birds, like us will want to cool down. Water used to wash salads is ideal for the bird bath and it may include one or two aphids which will soon be gobbled up.
There may be exceptions; muddy water from scrubbing potatoes may not be welcomed by those creatures wanting clean feathers so, instead, throw this on the lawn. It will help the grass, and also assists feeding blackbirds who will find it easier to extract worms from the hardened soil.
Much like domestic poultry, some birds love to dust bathe meaning the dry July weather works in their favour. House sparrows especially, seek out a dry, dusty patch of ground to nestle into, flicking gritty particles over their feathers and ruffling their plumage as though in water. It probably has the same effect as more traditional bathing but just looks wrong to us.
A whole host of colourful butterflies - including marbled whites, peacocks and red admirals - are now venturing into our gardens too, each in search of rich food nectar. At night they are joined by bats, agile aerial masters that swoop over scented flower beds snatching up insects.
Though insects may be highly active in July, there is an air of relaxation in the bird world. Parent birds put their feet up after a hectic breeding season. Most young have left home and are doing their own thing, which brings with it, going in search of their own food. Competition for food among birds can be intense, with so many young fledglings on the scene. It’s good to keep feeders topped up if you go away for any length of time - you could ask a neighbour to take over.
All the adults need worry about is a change of clothes, as the post-breeding season moult begins. Bedraggled, and looking a tad sorry for themselves, these birds moult some of their important flight feathers, often end up temporarily flightless, skulking in the undergrowth and keeping their head down. You could be forgiven for thinking these birds have upped and left you, but a patient observer will soon realise that their regulars are soon back come the autumn, in search of food and shelter.
We can offer birds and other wildlife shelter by keeping our gardens untidy. Try to leave some areas of longer grass, weeds (if you dare), a few nettles in a sunny spot, and a pile of logs and leaves in a shady corner. Simple measures like these will provide homes for a host of wildlife, most of which you won’t even notice is there!
Come along to RSPB Strumpshaw Fen on Saturday July 21 (10.30am-3.30pm) for a Summer Bee Identification Workshop. Join Tim Strudwick, RSPB Strumpshaw Fen site manager and Norfolk county solitary bee recorder, for a fascinating introduction to identifying the vast range of bees at this wetland reserve, including mining bees, mason bees, bumble bees. Learn observational skills out in the field, discover great tips and techniques from an expert. It’s an unforgettable experience for the enthusiast or complete beginner. Bring a picnic, take photos. Sounds like heaven!
Price: Adult member £36, Adult non-member £45 (plus booking fees). Booking is essential as this event is limited to just six spaces. To book on Eventbrite please follow: http://bit.ly/beeidworkshop