According to the Wildlife trust our green gardens are more akin to nature reserves than ever before. In fact the UK's gardens collectively are larger than all of our National Nature Reserves combined. So if you've decided to create or maintain a green garden and have't covered your place in lifeless gravel and slaps (we love a patio too though!) then you're doing the natural world a service and more importantly the animals and insect that we share it with.
Check for Bird's Nests Before Cutting
We know that you want your hedges looking all trim and we're all for that! Parkerbrand have a great trimmers that will get the job done a treat. But before you get started walk the length of your hedge, ducking down for a really good check. You might just be lucky enough to have some birds nesting. In fact its more likely than ever, with urban tree felling and record losses of trees from storms, our dawn-chorus friends need a home!
A good visual scan high and low could make all the difference. If you simply charged in there blades aloft you would easily disturb the nest and no doubt the chicks would be abandoned. With tumbling bird populations at alarming levels, we can ill-afford to be careless. Check trees too particularly those with dense foliage. Don't forget it is actually an offence to move or disturb a nest so its important to do the right thing.
When Can I Cut?
If you DO have nesting birds, firstly, congratulations! You can get your hedge back in to shape in no time. Most birds only need a moth or so for fledglings to be out and about. Birds have been millions of years old because they are successful! Don't forget their cousins were the dinosaurs, so we ought to show some respect in the end!
- Blackbirds normally fledge at 14 days or so, but if their low nests get discovered before, they can defend themselves and fly at 9-days old. Remarkable! At nine days old all I could do was vomit and worse.
- Blue tits usually fledge at approximately 3 weeks but hang around for a further few weeks to improve their muscle strength. It is when they are at their most endangered; predators sense their weakness and pounce. We love cats, but honestly, they decimate bird populations.
- Greenfinches fledge at 16-18 days old. Their first foray out is at 13 days, but they can’t yet fly; they want their first glimpses of the world. Troopers!
- Starlings fledge after 3-weeks but return to the nest for a further 2-weeks to be fed by their parents. The well-concealed nests deem this possible as few predators find them. Starlings have a high success rate of hatching and leaving the nest. With a massive decline in numbers 54% since 1995, wack up a bird feeder and whistle them in!
If we add it all up, it's not a massive hassle to just live and let live is it? You can soon lick teh garden into shape and think about BBQ's!
Who lives in My Garden?
You might think it's pretty much just you and a few butterflies but even small suburban gardens can have a surprising amount of wildlife including small mammals. If you do happen to have quieter areas of your garden or have areas that have overgrown (a classic if you've just moved in ) then it could be that you've nesting field mice or other small mammals. They don't spread disease and they are unlikely to try to move in to your house - like you in your garden, they just want some peace and quiet. Help them out by doing nothing at all!
Survey Your Garden
You can keep an eye on your garden and help to build the nations knowledge base of what's happening in our gardens and around us. The Woodland Trust have a simple and straight forward survey site that takes no time and helps to add to the picture. Keep your eyes open and stay closer to nature - you know its good for you!