Wildlife suffers as winter tightens grip

As the cold spell continues to grip the country, wildlife experts have begged people to help feed wild creatures.

SUFFOLK: As the cold spell continues to grip the country, wildlife experts have begged people to help feed wild creatures.

Temperatures have been sub-zero at night almost every night for the last three weeks and there is no sign of an end to the cold spell - in fact forecasters are warning we could be in for significant further snowfalls at the end of the week.

But while the cold weather can cause problems for us, it can be a killer for the wildlife.

The RSPB's Graham Madge urged householders to help out wildlife by putting out food and water for wild creatures during the cold spell.

He said: “Birds do rely on us at this time of the year, and it can be very rewarding - you will get many more than normal in your garden if you feed the birds when it is very cold and frosty.

“Gardens have become increasingly important for birds, and when the conditions are really harsh even the shiest birds will come out and take advantage of feeders.”

Most Read

He said it was important to put out a variety of feed to help birds - and to use as many different feeding areas as possible.

“Some birds like to use feeders, others will use a bird table and others like to feed on the ground - if you put all your food on a bird table you'll get a lot of starlings but blackbirds prefer to feed on the ground.”

A particular problem faced by birds at this time of the year is a lack of water.

“Ponds and puddles are frozen over so clear water is vital for birds. If you can keep a birdbath clear that will help birds enormously and bring them into your garden,” Mr Madge said.

If you start feeding birds and putting out water for them in your garden, it is vital that you carry on throughout the cold weather as they will come to rely on you and will use up valuable energy flying to your garden in the first place.

Do you feed wildlife? Have you had any unusual visitors? Have you any photographs of the cold weather? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

What to feed:

Bird seed and nuts bought from DIY stores or feed merchants is very good.

Some birds like fruit - even just leaving an old apple core on the lawn can attract birds.

High-energy fat-based foods, including dried cheese and fat balls is good - but don't use old chicken or turkey fat to make them.

Meal worms can be bought from wildlife specialists and some garden centres.

If you have a compost heap in your garden, rake over the top - that will give birds the chance to find worms and insects sheltering in it.

Water tip:

If you have a garden pond that has become frozen over, fill an old ice cream tub - or similar plastic container - with hot water from the tap and rest it on the ice. Do this every morning while the pond is frozen.

It will slowly melt a hole in the ice, and will then float on the top of the pond. Take the container out in the afternoon, so it doesn't freeze overnight and repeat every day that the cold spell continues.