December Wildlife in the Garden and Year Highlights!
The year is steadily drawing to a close and it has been another difficult year for most of us, but in the middle of it all wildlife has provided a real solace. Seeing God’s creation go about its business is a great reminder that he is in control and has brought me great comfort throughout the last few years. I’m going to write this post slightly differently this time with a countdown of the top five species we have seen, but before that I will add a short synopsis of what you could see this December.
On the coast December is a good time of year for bird watching with many migrants having shown up for the winter. In our gardens it can seem like everything has gone a bit quiet at times, but if you have bird feeders you will know that this is certainly not the case. One of the busiest birds is the Christmas card favorite the Robin, which is one of the few birds singing at this time of year to defend its territory. I mentioned last time about the November Moth, but there is also a December Moth! I have recently learnt that the moths that are active around this time of year use two different strategies the deal with the harsh conditions. In the case of the December Moth, it has a fluffy layer to keep it warm. Other moths like the Winter Moth tough it out functioning at very low body temperatures using a kind of antifreeze in their blood and the female has giving up flight altogether to save energy. More on these moths later on! Some mammals hibernate like Hedgehogs or Dormice, but fewer than you might think. The majority just slow down to save energy like Grey Squirrels for instance. The best advise I can give you is to make sure to put food out regularly as it makes a big difference when there is little food around. Do make sure your feeding stations are kept clean. Then just sit back and enjoy!
December Moth Left and Winter Moth Right
As many of you know, if you are a regular reader, I have been doing a challenge for charity to see as many species of creature as possible in my garden in a year. Our target was to reach 400 species which felt like a serious task, but having reached 383 the year before it was definitely achievable. I am delighted to say we have gone past our target with a remarkable 410 different species! 57 Birds, 29 Bee, Wasps and Ants, 13 Butterflies, 208 Moths, 66 Other Insects, 16 Arachnids, 16 Other Invertebrates, 1 Amphibian, and 4 Mammals. Pretty remarkable for a medium sized suburban garden! Amazing what you can see if you really spend the time. More importantly we have gone past our target of £1,000 for the charity A Rocha reaching £1,074 so far! There is still time to contribute if you would like, but hurry as you only have few weeks left. Just follow this link: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/blumirewildlife
The charity you will be helping to make a difference are A Rocha, a global Christian conservation organisation. Here’s a link to their website for more information: https://www.arocha.org/en/about/our-story As a Christian myself I believe it is our responsibility to look after God’s creation and it has never been a more urgent issue! All the money we raise will be split between two fantastic projects.
Tortoise Kitchen Gardens
South Africa is home to 14 terrestrial tortoise species, the highest diversity of any country in the world. However, a substantial number are held illegally and without the correct permits. So in October 2020, A Rocha South Africa and FreeMe KZN entered into a partnership to re-wild captive held tortoises with the goal of releasing them into protected areas. The new tortoise rehabilitation centre run by A Rocha South Africa, who are creating kitchen gardens to research the kind of plants that would be favourable to the tortoises. They are creating a plant nursery to propagate them and use them for landscaping the enclosures to provide a range of supplementary food plants for the tortoises. It would cost about £450 to set up the tortoise garden, then there would be monthly running costs of about £125 once the garden is fully developed.
Sack Gardening Uganda
Sack gardens offer families a way to grow their own vegetables where space is limited or where flooding is frequent. Gardening not only provides a healthier diet, but also brings people closer to nature. £15 will provide one day of training, allowing 10 people to learn how to make and care for their sack gardens.
Here is my 2021 garden countdown:
At Number 5: Red Fox – I have not really mentioned the Foxes on here before, but I see one or other of them nearly every day! We definitely have at least two that visit regularly and the one I think is the mum has a limp with her very smart full-grown cub. Although they can be very mischievous digging up the garden and stealing my mum’s wellie-clogs they are very endearing.
At Number 4: Red Admiral – I cannot remember a year quite like this when I have seen so many Red Admiral butterflies! Many butterflies have peaks and troughs, but this was a serious peak! I mentioned them in my last blog as they have been flying late this year, but they have been in high numbers most of the year.
At Number 3: Lesser Stag Beetle – A bit of an old favorite of mine, but the Lesser Stag Beetle has been a regular sighting in our garden the last few years. That was back in June and the grubs are probably there as we speak, in the log pile at the end of the garden. Although not quite as impressive as their larger cousins they are still a sizable insect!
One handsome Lesser Stag Beetle!
At Number 2: Lesser Redpoll – Way back in March we had a surprise visit from two Lesser Redpoll at our feeder, which is a pretty unusual garden visitor! Definitely a highlight and the only ones I’ve seen this year! Read my March post for more on these lovely little birds.
The Redpoll is under the Goldfinch
Finally at Number 1: December Moth – As I mentioned earlier, the December and Winter moths are species to look out for this month, and I am excited to say we added both of them to the list the other night. My dad has been trying to see a December Moth for years and we finally succeeded with not just one, but five in the moth trap!
Another fluffy December Moth!
I hope you have enjoyed finding out about the wildlife in our gardens. I look forward to seeing what next year brings!
A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!