What garden wildlife is doing now
Find out what the wildlife in your garden is up to in October.
October is the month of seedheads, light frosts, fattening up for winter, and migration. Keep an eye out for 'autumn orphan' hedgehogs, which were born as late as September and will not be able to gain enough weight to survive hibernation. Leave water and food such as kitten or cat biscuits for them, until it's no longer taken. If you see a hedgehog out during the day, call your local hedgehog rescue immediately – it will likely need urgent medical attention.
Now's a good time to clean bird feeders and refill them with calorie-rich food such as suet and peanuts. As the days shorten, birds have less time to find food, and need a lot of energy to shiver to keep warm on cold nights. Leaving seedheads on plants and ivy flowers to develop into calorie-rich berries will help birds significantly over the next few weeks.
How to help wildlife in your garden
- 10 ways to help garden wildlife in autumn
- Monty Don on gardening for wildlife
- Help wildlife survive winter
- Real gardens: wildlife haven
Bats are fattening up before winter
Bats are emerging from their roosts earlier in the evening, about half an hour after sunset for most species. This month they are mating. Males attract females with special calls that include clicks, purrs and even buzzing. They're also eating to fatten up before hibernation, and choosing hibernation sites.
Male frogs are croaking
Listen out for 'autumn croaking' by male frogs in your garden, particularly near your pond. It's not known exactly why frogs croak in autumn – in spring they croak to attract a mate. Perhaps autumn croaking is a way of saying "this is a good pond for spring".
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Redwings and fieldfares are migrating
Migrant birds, like redwings and fieldfares, are starting to arrive here from Scandinavia and Russia, thanks to the UK's milder winters. They eat berries from plants like hawthorn and holly, but will come to gardens if these are in short supply in the countryside. As well as planting more berrying shrubs, leave halved apples on the ground. You may be lucky enough to attract a flock of these migrant thrushes.
Queen wasps are preparing to hibernate
Queen wasps are feeding on the last of the ivy flowers before entering hibernation. They'll hibernate in cracks and crevices beneath tree bark, or take advantage of a bee or bug hotel you've put up.
Crane flies are laying eggs
Crane flies, also known as daddy long legs, are in our gardens in abundance, now. Look out for them mating and laying eggs in the lawn. Attracted to light, they may come into your home. Gently scoop them up and return them to your garden so they can complete their lifecycle.
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