As the lush green leaves turn to a spectacular display of brown and orange, we should spare a thought for all of the animals who must begin their search for food and shelter in preparation for the harsh autumn and winter ahead.
It is truly fascinating to watch, as these small animals work to find their place for the darker nights and guaranteed cold snap. As nature begins to slow down, we have put together some ideas for which animals you may be able to spot in your garden this season. We’ve also offered some simple ways of how you can help them, without interfering too much in nature’s plan.
Animals to look out for in the autumn
- You will notice flocks of birds starting to fly south in search of food and warmth as our own climate begins to change for the season. Keep looking, as there are some amazing flying displays to be witnessed!
- Red squirrels are usually a rare sight, but the autumn months are when you are most likely to catch a glimpse! They will be hard at work foraging for nuts in preparation for the winter, and are often attracted to peanuts that we put out on our bird tables.
- This is the season that red deer begin to breed. If you live close to a nature reserve, you may be able to see young deer with their mothers as the autumn and winter progress. Remember to keep your distance so as not to disturb or frighten them.
- You will notice the amount of spider webs in your garden more than ever before, as the morning dew and frost glisten on them as they hang between bushes, walls and other foliage.
- You will be able to see small animals such as voles, mice and birds, feasting on autumn fruits in the hedgerows.
What can we do to help wildlife in the autumn?
- Sweep up the fallen leaves and twigs in your garden as usual, but instead of disposing of them, brush them into a tidy pile in the corner. This will become an attractive hibernation prospect for insects, frogs and hedgehogs who are looking for somewhere to keep warm.
- Birds who do not migrate will be searching for somewhere safe to nest.They do not hibernate in the winter, so need a home that is fully accessible at all times and will provide shelter from the rain and wind. Fix a couple of bird boxes around your garden and they will soon become occupied.
- If you have a bird feeder in the garden, keep it topped up with a variety of bird food. If we encounter an early frost or ice, check on the water bowl regularly to make sure that it hasn’t frozen over.
- Turn empty plant pots onto their side and fill them with twigs, as this will create a warm shelter that is out of the rain. Or perhaps try our Wildlife World Frogilo Frog and Toad Resistant Home, perfect for keeping small animals safe from predators.
- Stop your pond from freezing over, by clearing out any debris and leaving a tennis ball or golf ball in the water. This will prevent the ice from forming a solid sheet across the distance of the pond.
- Plant late flowering plants in your garden. Some insects will still be looking for nectar during the winter months and they will in turn become a healthier food source for birds who will be returning in the spring.
- Some small animals will be attracted to the smells and warmth that your compost bin can provide. Make a small hole in the base where these animals can enter, but don’t make it too accessible for larger animals who will potentially make a mess pulling compost out of the bin.