As autumn progresses and we head towards winter, many animals are now tucked up safely away in hibernation or torpor, and others have travelled great distances for warmer weather and more plentiful food supplies.
At the beginning of November I visited WWT Welney for the first time (I’ve now visited all the WWT centres!) to see the whooper swans that had started to arrive from Iceland, where they breed. By the time it got dark about 500 swans had come in to roost on the reserve.
It was only towards the end of my week in Welney that I saw what I’d been hoping to find all week – a whooper swan with a leg ring on…
And inside the observatory I used the “iSwan” touchscreen to find out more about her:
The database revealed that Bjork had travelled 33,000 miles in her life on her back-and-fore migrations to Iceland! But not everything survives the winter by undertaking a great migration like the swans do. If you want to help out the smaller creatures that are looking for a safe place to hibernate in your garden, there are lots of things you can do to help out.
In the garden – hibernation homes
Firstly, don’t tidy up everything in your garden, leave piles of leaves and the stems of plants that have finished flowering, as insects can hide inside the hollow tubes. You can also construct a special insect home like the one above that I made at WWT Llanelli, or make something really simple using natural and recycled materials, like the one below.
Cut a 2 litre plastic bottle in half, then stuff full of pine cones, twigs, straw, leaves and anything else you think invertebrates might like to snuggle up in for the winter! Place it somewhere safe in the garden, preferably under cover, and at an angle so that rainwater won’t get into it.