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Wildlife Calendar - April

WILDLIFE CALENDAR - APRIL

Tadpoles

By April, spring has well and truly sprung! The weather is often unpredictable, providing beautiful sunny days as well as dreadful wet days, but always helping your garden’s flora and fauna to feed and grow rapidly.

The Cuckoo makes the sound synonymous with the month of April, often heard but seldom seen. They are, of course, well known for laying their eggs in the nests of other birds – mainly meadow pipits, dunnocks and reed warblers. Unfortunately numbers have declined rapidly recently, and the cuckoo is now a red-listed species in the UK.

Early broods of nesting birds will start to fledge this month, and will be following their parents around for tasty morsels. Try to avoid large foods such as whole peanuts from the bird table, instead offer them from a peanut feeder. Carry on feeding the birds during nesting time, as the parents will be so busy providing for their young that they will be grateful of some high energy foods such as suet and specialist energy mixes for themselves.

There is still time to sow seed you have collected or bought for a colourful wildlife garden. You could create a “Pocket Meadow” in your garden – a great wildlife habitat that you can squeeze into the smallest of sunny patches. Follow our garden wildlife guide. An annual or perennial border is an alternative, more conventional choice, but it is always good to plant mostly native species that have been sourced in the UK – either collect them yourself (with permission) or check your seed packets for their origin. If you want to support the full life cycle of species, then “companion” planting is a great idea. For example, if you plant buddleja, sedum or knapweed for nectar, then you can plant some nettles for the larvae of Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies. This is why a meadow is a great habitat, because there are many butterflies and other insects whose larvae eat the grasses and adults love the meadow flowers. To contain fast growing plants such as nettles, plant in a strong pot that is buried in the soil.

In spring, the flower nectar is sometimes limited, and this can be supplemented by providing specially prepared food for insects – a prepared butterfly food with sugar and vitamins will be very welcome for many nectar-feeding insects including bees.

In the pond, those tadpoles have been grazing on algae and pond plants and growing rapidly. Their magical transformation into froglets and toadlets is nearing completion – first back legs, then front legs and a shrinking tail before making their way into the shallows and over the edge! If the pond was a scary place with fish, dragonfly and beetle larvae, then the land is even more dangerous with many predators – long grass and log piles are the best refuge in your garden, keeping damp and safe with slugs and worms at hand for a tasty meal!

Many mammals will be starting to raise their families from April, and they will be out searching for food. Hedgehogs and badgers eat earthworms and insects (badgers are omnivorous, taking fruit and nuts as well as small animals). Spring is an important time, and they will be eating more than ever during gestation. Supplement their natural diet with special food, and if they get used to visiting your garden then you may see their young in a later in the year. If you have a hedgehog home in your garden, it may be used by a travelling hedgehog for sanctuary or even by a family group.

Another mammal that has started to become active now is the bat – they will be swooping you’re your garden feeding on insects. Providing a bat box will again encourage them to remain in your area – controlling pest insects in the UK and in some countries even helping to pollinate flowers.