With COP27 fresh in our minds we decided that, for this Christmas, we’d ask our local wildlife what they’d like for presents this year. We had ideas in from loads of our wild friends with birds, mammals and a load of insects all contributing. Some of them were asking for special gifts and some would be happy if we humans just stopped doing some silly things. We hope you’ll find some good ideas here, with some useful links to follow up.
The birds (including a few tits, some owls and even a kestrel) were keen to get some new nest boxes. Luckily we could point them to the Bisham Nest Box Group who will make and then install them.
The big call from hedgehogs was for holes in fences. They need to be travel about (up to 2 km a night for some of them) so fences give them a bit of a problem.
Oh so many requests for ponds, from all sorts of animals. And they stressed that even a little pond a foot or two square is helpful.
Quite a few of the birds and some mice put in a plea for people to stop continually cutting their hedges. That could be a New Year’s Resolution – to never trim all sides of a hedge each year. Do one side (left/right/top) each year. They’d appreciate that.
Some of the more extrovert animals suggested that you buy a trail camera so they can create videos you can watch. They start at around £80 and they can give a lot of fun as well as helping us gather more data on the wildlife we have around us.
Many of the animals had nice things to say about young people. They love them taking an interest in the lives and welfare of animals. A wildlife book (check out Cookham's Little Bookshop), a pair of binoculars or a species identification app for a mobile phone can help to stimulate what can become a lifelong interest. A membership of the RSPB, the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust or similar group can have a similar impact.
The moths surprisingly suggested a moth trap. Despite being attracted unfairly by the light they take the view that the more people know about them the more likely that they can be protected. You can create a simple trap for not much (even a white sheet and a bright light for starters) and you set the moths free after taking a look.
Many of the insects surveyed referred to the local Wild About Gardens scheme. They say that it’s had a great impact where gardeners have got involved and they’d love to learn that more of us are participating. Many of them asked for more plants that flower in the winter that will give them food all year round.
Most insects said they can see us better than we can see them. They recommended a pair of close-focus binoculars (eg a relatively inexpensive Pentax Papilio II 8.25x21) so they can show off to us more effectively.
Quite a few said they were coughing and spluttering a fair bit due to loss of trees affecting air quality. They suggested we all 'plant a tree in 23’.
The family of worms we spoke to wanted more compost to chew on. You can create some leaf piles from all those leaves lying on lawns and paths, but leave those on borders for overwintering bugs.
Cookham parish magazine - December 2022