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Kent Wildlife Trust on how to spot wildlife in our outdoor spaces and encourage more wildlife

We may not be able to amble through a woodland or wander across a hillside for hours right now, but enjoying nature is still something we can all enjoy, and something which can boost our mood.

Here Kent Wildlife Trust's Wild About Gardens officer Maureen Rainey and Lucy Carden, assistant conservation officer, give their tips on how to spot wildlife in our outdoor spaces, and how to encourage more in...

The Wildlife Trusts want to encourage us all to enjoy nature Picture: David Tipling
The Wildlife Trusts want to encourage us all to enjoy nature Picture: David Tipling

What plants attract wildlife the most?

Choosing the right plants in early spring can be really beneficial for emerging pollinators, plants such as lungwort, foxgloves, crocus, primrose and even narcissus can attract lots of pollinators such as the hairy-footed flower bee, red mason bees or queen buff-tailed bumblebees. These can be planted in a border or in a series of pots in a sunny location. Also consider trees such as willow, rowan, hazel, hawthorn and dog rose which will provide shelter for visiting birds and a valued food source in early spring for pollinators and during autumn for birds. And don’t forget to include plants for caterpillars, so you can see lots of lovely adult butterflies & moths.

Can I make a bug house in my garden if it's very small?

Bug houses can be made on any scale and relatively cheaply with materials you may already have – wildlife isn’t picky! You can easily make a solitary bee box by taking an old plant pot and tightly packing it with bamboo canes or even stems from pruning’s (as long as they are hollow), moss and dried leaves. Site it in a sunny, sheltered spot and wait to see what arrives.

Plants can encourage caterpillars and so butterflies like the Orange Tip butterfly Picture: Ross Hoddinott
Plants can encourage caterpillars and so butterflies like the Orange Tip butterfly Picture: Ross Hoddinott

Do I need to leave my garden to go a bit wild for wildlife, or can I still keep it looking tidy?

There are lots of ways in which you can tidy your garden while still being wildlife-friendly. Leaving patches of un-mown grass can encourage plants such as daisies, dandelions, speedwells, buttercups, clovers and self-heal to develop, and even in some cases even orchids can develop too, providing a great refuge and food source for lots of insect species If you do choose to this, resist mowing until at least the end of July – early September. Have fun with your family identifying the wild flowers which appear - there are lots of apps available to help you.

The Wildlife Trusts want to encourage us all to enjoy nature Picture: David Tipling
The Wildlife Trusts want to encourage us all to enjoy nature Picture: David Tipling

What other things can I do to attract wildlife into my garden?

Many small changes can make a significant difference to wildlife in a garden and there are lots of things you can do now in your gardens to help. Creating a log pile in a corner of your garden is an easy way provide shelter for insects, small mammals and reptiles, providing a shallow dish of water for birds to drink and bathe in, creating a bird feeding station to attract different bird species into your garden, niger seed for example is a great way to entice goldfinches into your garden to even creating a small pond of any size, if you are limited on space, a spare bucket dug into the ground will have benefit to wildlife, as long as there is an easy way in and out for wildlife, they’ll make use of it. One of the most important things is to ditch the poisons.

Taking photos of what you see and posting on social media is also a really great way to learn new wildlife species. Lots of people will be willing to help answer ID questions.

Twitter has #wildflowerhour every Sunday from 8pm to 9pm, a great way to learn new plant species from around your garden or those you see while on your walk

#selfisolationbirdclub, set up on by Chris Packham, is also a great way to post photos and videos of the birds you have seen in your garden.

Kent Wildlife Trust is based at Sandling, near Maidstone. Find out more at kentwildlifetrust.org.uk

You might see birds like blackbirds Picture: Jon Hawkins Surrey Hill Photography
You might see birds like blackbirds Picture: Jon Hawkins Surrey Hill Photography

The Wildlife Trusts have launched a weekly wildlife programme on YouTube, and a new Wildlife Watch video will be released at 10am every Wednesday.

There will be practical outdoor advice to inspire us to do more for wildlife in gardens, balconies or window boxes and tips such as spotting bees, butterflies, bats and birds during your permitted local walk and keeping children entertained with nature-themed crafts.

Subjects you can learn about include: how to build a pond; how to identify insects in your garden; how to make a bug hotel and why birds sing and how to recognise their songs.

You can also see wildlife around the country with some 24 webcams from nests and locations around the UK and watch puffins in Alderney, peregrines in Nottingham, bats in Essex and ospreys on their nests by visiting wildlifetrusts.org/webcams.

Kent Wildlife Trust is encouraging us all to look out for wildlife Picture: Paul Tinsley-Marshall
Kent Wildlife Trust is encouraging us all to look out for wildlife Picture: Paul Tinsley-Marshall

Keep an eye out for #EverydayWildlife across social media too.

Leanne Manchester, wildlife gardener and digital communications manager at the Wildlife Trusts, said:“Spring has arrived in splendid colour and sound, and over the past few days, hundreds of people have told us that they've spotted their first butterflies. These are joyful moments that people hold dear at this difficult time.

The YouTube channel will feature wildlife experts, home-schooling help and seasonal species to spot. Click here to view it.

To find out how to join in with the RSPB's Breakfast Birdwatch click here.


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