How To Protect Garden Wildlife This Winter

As the weather turns colder, the trees grow bare and frost lays on the ground, it is time to start thinking about how to protect the wildlife in our garden this winter. The main thing we can do is provide safe shelter and food. One of the simplest things that anyone can do is to let grass and hedges grow long and wild over winter. This provides a natural place for a variety of wildlife to hide. But there are also lots of other ways we can help too.

For example, we spotted this hedgehog hideaway at a local garden centre recently, which we thought was a great idea! However, if you do see a hedgehog out during winter when they should be hibernating, it is best to contact your local hedgehog hospital or other experts for advice.

garden centre, protecting wildlife, winter, Rattan Direct

Another popular idea is a bird house or feeder. Squiggle attempted her own DIY version; it is rather on the large side but a very interesting design and all her own work of course! She is going to try making a smaller feeder next, using a carton with entrance hole cut out and stick perch. I’ll post the results when it’s done! Remember to keep bird feeders away from anywhere that predators can easily reach them, but still near shelter if possible.

Bird feeder, protecting wildlife, winter, Rattan Direct

For our tiny members of wildlife, we have a couple of thick logs in an overgrown section of our garden. They provide a great place to hide during anytime of the year, but it is especially helpful in the winter months.

On the subject of wildlife, Rattan Direct are holding a wildlife photography competition and currently have a poll running to choose your favourite photograph from the final selection. There are some really interesting, and cute, pictures included. I have picked my favourite one, but I will let you look and decide for yourselves of course! The poll is here:

http://www.rattandirect.co.uk/blog/wildlife-competition-poll/

I’m looking forward to finding out the winner, it was a tough choice! In the meantime, remember those tips for keeping a wildlife-friendly garden this winter, and do let me know if you have any other suggestions too. Stay wild everyone!

This is a sponsored post written in collaboration with Rattan Direct.

#Blogtober 2016 – Day 11: Your Favourite Type of Animal

I love animals, but I do have a few particular favourites that spring to mind. Growing up, dogs were my absolute firm favourite. I would spend many hours learning about different dog breeds, and I had a pet dog who I adored, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel called Cindy. I would love to have a dog now, but circumstances mean it isn’t really possible in the near future. One day maybe! We love spending time with my dad’s gorgeous Labradors though.

Pets, dogs, labrador, black labrador, golden labrador, furry family, furbabies

Cats are another animal that I have a huge soft spot for. We have two cats, one of whom is desperately trying to stop me typing in order to stroke him right now! We also have two bunnies, so I will count them as a favourite too, I wouldn’t want them to feel left out!

Furry family, furbabies, giant french lop, white rabbit

Last but not least, seals are another favourite. Watching them in their natural environment, seeing them give birth, watching inquisitive newborns interact with Squiggle and other humans… it is simply mind-blowing. Learning about the story of Ropeneck, a mother who was rescued when she got a rope caught tightly around her neck and has since returned to the same spot on the Lincolnshire coast to give birth every pupping season, inspired and motivated me to take more action to protect our ocean mammals. 

Rope entanglement, scarred, seals, pups, ocean mammals, empathy
This is Rope neck. She turned up on Donna Nook beach in Lincs, UK in 2006 with a rope around her neck slowly cutting into the flesh. She was caught and freed, but heavily scarred. Ropeneck now returns to the same spot at the same time every year to pup. (This particular photo was taken by myself in November 2014).

This also led me to discover the story of the Lonely Whale, which then guided me to various other organisations too, all of whom work hard to make positive and lasting changes for ocean health and the well-being of the living creatures who reside in it.

Amazing how one animal… one story… can have such a major impact on our lives!

#Blogtober16

Make A Splash: 5 Ways We Can All Help Our Oceans

We have to keep the momentum going so that we can come together and protect our ocean. Why? Because our ocean is absolutely essential for life itself – not just the food, but the oxygen and weather cycles of the planet all depend on the ocean. ” – Secretary of State John Kerry

No water, no life. No blue, no green. ” –  Sylvia Earle

The health of our oceans is crucial to all life; there is no denying that oceans hold huge importance. Ocean health matters. And right now the statistics are both depressing and worrying. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea (5gyres) and humans have managed to wipe out 90% of the ocean’s top predators in the past 55 years (Oceana).

If we all work together, scientists believe ocean health can be restored. Many of our world leaders are starting to recognise this and are taking action to protect and restore our oceans. For example, France has just declared a ban on single-use plates, cups and utensils from 2020, UK are following USA in banning microbeads and 100+ commitments totaling over $4.8 billion were made at Our Ocean conference in Washington DC, including the creation of 40 new or expanded marine protected areas. That is exciting news for ocean health! 

But there is so much more to do.

Here are some practical ways we can all help to protect and restore our oceans in everyday life…

1. Reduce, refuse and reuse.

Reduce your use of single-use plastics. Bags, cutlery, straws, cups, water bottles and containers all massively contribute to ocean pollution and harm ocean life. Plastic is meant to last, so using it for throw-away items is simply poor product design. Recycling helps of course, but even that has plenty of pitfalls, so is better as a back-up when using plastic can’t be avoided. Making more sustainable choices, such as refusing single-use plastic items and investing in reusable alternatives  is an excellent high impact way of helping our oceans.

Pledge to go #strawless with The Lonely Whale Foundation.

Take the #plasticfree pledge with 5gyres.


2. Check your seafood supply.

Choosing sustainable seafood is important because much of the world’s fish supply is under threat from over fishing. When you add in the issue of climate change and pollution, that is a huge problem for the future of fish on the menu.

Check out Seafood Watch by Monterey Bay aquarium for more about sustainable seafood. 

Marine Conservation Society also has useful information about how to make good choices when it comes to seafood. www.goodfishguide.org 


3. Ban microbeads from your home.

Choose products that do not contain microbeads. Microbeads are tiny bits of plastic found in some personal and beauty care products, such as toothpaste, scrubs, sunscreens and make-up. They wash off down the drain, then end up in oceans, where they become extremely toxic. They are eaten by fish and other marine life, which causes harm to other life and damages our own food supply too. There are movements to ban microbeads in UK and USA but this has not yet come into force and other countries are yet to follow suit. Removing microbeads from your home could save literally thousands of microbeads from entering our waterways PER DAY.

Find out which products do not contain microbeads www.beatthemicrobead.org


4. Switch energy suppliers.

Switching from fossil fuels to a green energy supplier is not only good for the environment but could also save you money too! 

Climate-changing gases from offshore oil and other fossil fuels are changing ocean chemistry, saturating the oceans with carbon dioxide and making them increasingly acidic.

Acidification is already leading to the degradation of coral reef habitats and negatively impacting some commercially important fisheries, like shellfish.” – Oceana

I personally switched to Good Energy but there are various clean energy companies to choose from. Making the switch is usually quick and easy but makes a massive difference.


5. Donate…

Monetary donations are one thing, but donating can come in many other forms too. One of the most powerful things anyone can donate- for free- is your voice. Sign petitions, share campaigns and start conversations. 

Ocean Unite has a list of actions, as do many other charities and organisations.

Time is another resource that can be donated, such as helping to clean up our beaches. See SAS (UK) and Ocean Conservancy for more information on organised beach clean ups. 

Or you could even donate your art! Visit Lonely Whale for further details or to donate.

 

Last but not least, share how you #MakeASplash to protect our oceans!


This article was written in dedication to #MakeASplash campaign. Thank you to the organisations and charities mentioned for inspiring and teaching me about our oceans. 

30 Days Wild- Day 20: Creatures Great and Small

Today marks the start of National Insect Week here in the UK. For more information on events, activities and competitions see www.nationalinsectweek.co.uk

image

This seems a good time to mention our ongoing campaign to save Butterfly World Project. This was a local conservation project that sadly announced its permanent closure last December and therefore did not reopen this season. However, we have since been working together to try to find a solution. For more information on this, check out our website www.savebutterflyworld.com

image

Also, it has just been announced today that EU has agreed an action plan to tackle wildlife trafficking and other crimes. Great news! This is one of many wildlife, conservation and environmental campaigns I have supported recently. It feels good to know that we can all make a difference- whether it is relocating an insect to safety or using our voice to support campaigns or taking any other kind of positive action- we can all do our bit to make the world a better place.

image

30 Days Wild- Day 5: Rabbits and Research

Today we went to Willows Farm to check out the new Peter Rabbit adventure playground. Squiggle had a ‘wild’ time exploring the playground and meeting Peter Rabbit himself!

image

It’s World Environment Day and Wildlife Trusts asked the question on Twitter ‘why does our environment matter to you?’ For me, it’s because the health and well-being of all living things, including our own, depends on it- so how could it not matter?! And there is so much beauty in this world, I want to preserve that for our future generations. Our environment matters- it’s that simple!

image

Aside from reflecting on this, I have spent this evening watching an inspirational interview with a brilliant conservation advocate. I also saw how Ocean Conservancy search for and protect sea turtle nests (via their snapchat story), which was interesting. Last but not least, I have been doing yet more research on plastic pollution and action planning- but more to come on that soon!

March Round-up

Here are our March highlights. I chose the song ‘Wonderful World’ because we went on several lovely nature walks and this song really echoes our appreciation of the world around us!

As well as the nature walks, a few of our other activities (as seen in the video) include a marine conservation workshop by Whale Fest, a playdate at the park, other parks and playgrounds, growing our own potatoes, reading, Aldenham SEN playground, a trip to Willows farm and a visit to Stockwood Discovery Centre.

Haven: Littlesea (Our trip to Weymouth, Dorset)

We had a brilliant short break at Littlesea Haven Holiday Park in Weymouth. We stayed in a lovely privately owned caravan in a well-situated spot and really enjoyed the facilities that this site had to offer. We have stayed on several Haven sites now but this one was a firm favourite! Nice pool, good layout, great entertainment, understanding staff, excellent location (with a car) and all-round enjoyable stay.

image
Indoor entertainment at Littlesea
image
Outdoor play area

Whilst we were at Weymouth, we also visited Sealife Adventure Park. We have been here several times before and absolutely love it! Well worth a visit, wonderful day out.

image
Lots to see, really fascinating
image
Seals are still her favourite! She was very happy to discover two more seals have come to join Sealife too.
image
Fun playing in the water park.
image
Lovely new sensory area- great addition!

We also went to the beach…

image
Reading the signs on the bridge. Some of them we didn't know so we all learned something new!
image
Scenic views
image
It was really quiet and very peaceful.
image
Beautiful sea views

Last but not least, we popped to the beach and the funfair at Bowleaze Cove…

image
Bowleaze Cove (and the marina we passed on the way there!)
image
Funfair at Bowleaze Cove

All in all, a fantastic short trip! Loved it!