What’s Bugging You?

Have you noticed a difference in the wildlife near where you live?

Chris Packham has recently expressed a bit of distress at the struggle British wildlife is facing these days. As a country, he praised us for taking nature to our hearts but was issuing a call to all amateur naturalists to survey what was going on around them. There’s just not the diversity or amount of wildlife that there used to be.

Jamie Wyver from the RSPB explained to me for a feature in Special 159 that the turtledove is nearing extinction. Over 90% of the population has disappeared since the 1990s.

We’ve heard that the southern half of the country has had some really erratic weather so far this year, but up here we’ve had an absolutely consistent run of sunny days (until today!) that seems to have brought everything to life all at once. There have been plenty of flying things round our way, so I think the birds are doing well – though we’re still putting out food.

But things have definitely changed. Being outdoors a lot, I now have to be very aware of ticks.

I don’t remember ticks when I was young. My parents never warned me away from long grass or ferns because of the risk, but now I feel obliged to remind anyone who goes walking near us to check thoroughly afterwards.

I assumed they’d come up from the continent in the warming weather, but a Spanish friend of mine said he’d never come across them either.

On a recent trip to the Peak District, it suddenly occurred to a few of us that we didn’t seem to get those “flying ant days” any more, either. That one day of the year when they’d all be out – you had to keep your mouth shut to avoid swallowing them, so many there were.

This is our first year in our new house, and we’ve taken everyone’s advice to wait to see what grows before we decide what we’re going to do in the garden. Well, everything grows – and I’m not sure there’ll be a lot we can do about it.

It’s growing through black matting, through gravel, up out of a dry stream bed – but at least those wildflowers are good for the bees, theĀ bugs and then the birds.

Notes for our gardens

Recently, the RSPB put out a call for us to get water out in the garden. Birds get thirsty in the hot weather. I think we’ll try to keep a few bits of the garden wild for all the beasties, and I’ll be looking back at Alexandra’s tips for a small water feature in Notes From My Garden – a little wild water spot does wonders for all of them.

What have you seen change – and do you do anything in your garden to give nature a helping hand?

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Alex Corlett

Alex is the "Friend's" Features Editor, working with the talented Features Team to bring you everything from cryptic crosswords to financial advice, knitting patterns to international travel and inspirational real life stories. Always on the hunt for a new feature idea, Alex also enjoys cycling and loves a good tea room.