With summer in full swing and the hottest day on record about to strike, many of the animals that visit our gardens can struggle to find access to water and food sources. But, there are a few things we can do to help out!
Unlike other mammals, birds don’t have sweat glands but still lose water through respiration, so make sure those bird baths and ponds are kept topped up so your feathered friends can cool down in the water as well as stop for a much-need drink.
Remember, during the summer months parent birds are busy sourcing food for their fledglings, so keeping your feeders filled with seed will help to provide the much needed energy birds require to go about their daily business.
Hedgehogs are especially vulnerable during summer, with the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) recording an influx of calls reporting cases of dehydrated hedgehogs. Leaving out shallow dishes of water will help our prickly friends easily find a source of water, and plates of meaty pet foods are a great source of food when sun-baked, dry ground means their usual diet of slugs and worms are hard to come by.
You can also provide hedgehogs with a cool, sheltered place to escape from the sun during the day by popping a hedgehog house in a shaded, covered area of your garden. This will also encourage them to hibernate in your garden overwinter as well.
We’re all aware by now of how important bees are to our ecosystem, but during warm weather they can often become exhausted and you might spot one laying on the ground whilst it tried to recover.
You can help them by providing a shallow dish filled with a sugar and water solution to give them a boost of energy. Make sure you place pebbles in the dish as well so they have a place to safely land, and don’t risk drowning. By doing this one simple thing, you’re providing them with enough energy to get them back to the safety of the hive. Insect hotels are fantastic for providing solitary bees with shelter during the heat of the day too.
Butterflies actually thrive in the summer heat! However, you can still help them find a food source by planting nectar rich flowers such as buddleja, verbena and common knapweed. Remember to count however many you see as well, and submit your results to the Big Butterfly Count taking place this summer.
Butterfly B&Bs are a great addition to the garden to provide a sheltered space in the thunderstorms that often follow a heatwave, as well as a safe haven from predators such as bats.
Let it grow
At this time of year, garden critters are desperately trying to find a shaded place to keep cool, and animals such as birds and bats often take shelter in ivy. If you’ve got any climbing plants such as ivy or field bindweed that you would normally be clearing from your garden at this time of year, leave it there until the hot weather passes.