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Wildlife Calendar - February


Hazel catkins

We are all looking forward to Spring now that January is behind us and the days are getting longer, and the same thoughts are going through the minds of the wildlife in the garden. Birds and other animals are starting to prepare for nesting season as early as February – it would be disastrous to “miss the boat” when it comes to finding a mate and a good nesting site so early preparation is the key.

In February, birds will be checking trees, hedges and gardens for a suitable roost and nest site – that is why BTO National Nest Box Week is held in February. You are encouraged to make or buy a nest box, hang it up in a safe place and monitor it for activity. Even if you don’t attract a breeding pair, you will be helping birds to survive by providing a roosting site during winter months. Nature Station provides a wide range of nest boxes and roosting pouches for your garden birds.

You will notice that birds are particularly frequent visitors to the garden, and this is the most beneficial time of year to have a feeding station with a range of different feeders serving mixed seed, nuts, sunflower seeds and suet. Your feathered visitors are relying on you to keep the feeders topped up. Don’t forget water too, which may also mean breaking the ice on cold mornings. Clean your feeders and bird baths regularly using an appropriate detergent and tools.

February is a good time to create a wildlife pond. A pond is one of the most effective features for attracting wildlife into the garden. Birds and mammals enjoy going there for a drink, as well as for bathing facilities! Amphibians, insects and other bugs treat it as home. If you can fill the pond using rainwater, and “borrow” a bucket of water from an established wildlife pond, then you will get even faster results. Frogs may start visiting as soon as late February for spawning, plant and bug life will multiply and grow quickly.

When frogs and toads emerge from their winter holes, they can cover a great distance until they reach their favourite spawning pond. Common toads in particular are fussy about where they raise their families, and often migrate back to the same pond each year, but there may be many obstacles including ditches, hedges and busy roads in their way. That is where Toad Patrol comes in – Frog Life has set up a network of toad crossings across the country to help these amphibians across roads. You can help by registering for their Toads on Roads scheme.

It is still too early for most plants to be growing again in the garden, but look out for bulbs and yellow Winter Aconites (Eranthis) pushing through and adding colour to the border. If you have Hazel (Corylus), then the branches will be adorned with their delicate male catkins throughout February, whereas the female flowers are less visible, and concealed in the buds.

On sunny days, Bumble Bee queens and Solitary bees are emerging from their winter hideouts and finding a new nesting place. Bee houses that contain hollow tubes suit many solitary bee species – you may make a house or choose one of our specially crafted homes. Please be aware that solitary bees and their larvae overwinter in the hollow stems of garden plants that have died back, so rather than rip out and bin these plants in winter, leave them in place until early spring or pile them up in the corner of the garden.