Fieldfares and Redwings (below left and right), our winter thrushes, have arrived, a little later than usual, but reminding us that their appearance is as much a sign of seasonal change as the first sight of Swallows and Martins in the Spring.
They’ll be feasting on apples left on the ground and the berries still on our bushes and in our hedgerows. And those Blackbirds and Robins now in your garden may not be your summer birds: many of these have headed south to make room for replacements from Scandinavia and beyond.
With so many of our hedgerows and orchards lost, these visitors are ever more dependent on our gardens for their food and shelter. Leaving areas uncut and encouraging berry bushes becomes more important - providing a haven for the birds as well as great pleasure for us.
And it's not just the birds. As you head out with the pruners, loppers and rakes think about the many mammals (that's a wood mouse on the right) and insects that need places to hide through the winter. With less foliage to protect them they are more easily spotted by predators. And why not use the coming period as a time to plan how you're going to make a real effort for wildlife next year? The WildCookham website (www.wildcookham.org.uk) has plenty of ideas for wild gardens.
Looking ahead, 2022 will inevitably bring a further ratcheting of the climate threat and the linked dramatic collapse in our ecology (around one in six of all species in the UK are under threat of extinction). WildCookham continues its work, doing our best to protect the natural spaces we have around our community. We'll be monitoring the state of our wild habitats and species, engaging in projects aimed at habitat enhancement and doing what we can to make everyone in the Crookham aware of the threats facing us and how we can each make a difference.
If you would like to read more about our various projects it’s all in our latest newsletter on our website. It includes the recent news that WildCookham is now a full charity registered with the Charity Commission. It’s a big challenge we have taken on and we need all the help we can get. We welcome anyone who would like to be involved in some way: why not head into the New Year with an offer to make some time available? You don’t need specialist expertise (though we can certainly use it if you have it): just a willingness to help us do what we can to address the challenges we face. Contact us at email@example.com.
Happy Christmas and a Wild New Year from all of us at WildCookham!