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Sustainable Living

Fauna

Animals of Bolnore Wood
Bolnore village and its surrounding woodland is full of wildlife.  This section will explore the most common forms of wildlife that you are likely to find in in Bolnore and how best to help and not hinder their quality of life.

A recent list produced by the Friends of Ashenground and Bolnore Woods (FoABW) of reported wildlife sightings in the area include: blackbirds, great tit, blue tit, buzzard, chiff-chaff, collar dove, crow, feral pigeon, eagle owl mallard & 2 ducklings, mistle thrush, moorhen, robin, rook, sparrow hawk & fledlings, green woodpecker, little owl, magpies, song thrush, starling, swifts, tree creeper, wood pigeon and wrens, rabbits, fox and badger cubs, hare (not confirmed) red tailed bumblebees, buff tailed bumblebees, common shrew, dormouse water vole and wood mice.

Most likely to encounter….(in no particular order!)

Birds

This document provides a quick guide to the ten most common birds you are likely to see in your garden as recorded by The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) following the Big Garden Birdwatch 2011. This top ten is a great place to start to familiarise yourself with the birds you might see in your garden and around the Village.

If you are keen to find out more about the birds you spot or need help identifying them, why not visit the RSPBs website and try out their Bird Identifier using this link

http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdidentifier/index.aspx

Feeding the birds

Although winter feeding benefits birds most, food shortages can occur at any time of the year. By feeding the birds year round, you’ll give them a better chance to survive the periods of food shortage whenever that may occur.

Autumn and winter

At this time of year, put out food and water on a regular basis. In severe weather, feed twice daily if you can: in the morning and in the early afternoon. Birds require high energy (high fat) foods during the cold winter weather to maintain their fat reserves to survive the frosty nights. Use only good quality food and scraps.  Always adjust the quantity given to the demand, and never allow uneaten foods to accumulate around the feeders. Once you establish a feeding routine, try not to change it as the birds will become used to it and time their visits to your garden accordingly.

Spring and summer

Only feed selected foods at this time of year. Good hygiene is vital, or feeding may do more harm than good.  During the summer months, birds require high protein foods, especially while they are moulting.  Black sunflower seeds, pinhead oatmeal, soaked sultanas, raisins and currants, mild grated cheese, mealworms, waxworms, mixes for insectivorous birds, good seed mixtures without loose peanuts, RSPB food bars and summer seed mixture are all good foods to provide. Soft apples and pears cut in half, bananas and grapes are also good. Some people use soaked dog or cat food and tinned pet foods, but these may attract magpies, crows and cats.

Avoid using peanuts, fat and bread at this time, since these can be harmful if adult birds feed them to their nestlings. If you feel you must put out peanuts, only do so in suitable mesh feeders that will not allow sizeable pieces of peanuts to be removed and provide a choking risk.

Home-made fatballs can go soft and rancid in warm summer weather, and should be avoided. Commercially produced fat bars are suitable for summer feeding but discard any remains after three weeks.

Temporary food shortage can occur at almost any time of the year, and if this happens during the breeding season, extra food on your bird table can make a big difference to the survival of young. Birds time their breeding period to exploit the availability of natural foods: earthworms in the case of blackbirds and song thrushes, and caterpillars in the case of tits and chaffinches. It is now known that if the weather turns cold or wet during spring or summer, severe shortage of insect food can occur, and if the weather is exceptionally dry, earthworms will be unavailable to the ground feeders because of the hard soil.

Natural food shortages

If food shortages occur when birds have young in the nest they may be tempted by easy food put on birdtables to make up the shortfall in natural food, initially to feed themselves, but if the situation gets bad enough, they will also take the food to the nest.

If the food offered on your bird table isn’t suitable for the young chicks, it can do more harm than good, and can even be lethal to the chicks as they can choke on the food. It can be difficult for a human to gauge when food shortage in the wild occurs, and hence it is best not to put out food that is likely to create problems during the breeding season.

Therefore, never put out loose peanuts, dry hard foods, large chunks of bread, or fats during the spring or summer months.

The Dormouse

One of Britain’s most endangered mammals and is protected by law.  They typically feed on fruits berries, flowers, nuts and insects.  Only one species is native to the UK and can hibernate for periods of over 6 months.  To enable them to be able to hibernate for such long period they store body fat during the summer months.

You may remember back to 2004 when the  pace of the Haywards Heath relief road construction was being dictated by  the tiny mice.   Work was being carried out frantically over the summer months so as not to disturb the creatures hibernation period in winter.

Interesting fact:

One of the dormouse’s favorite foods is the hazelnut.  Characteristics of a  hazelnut which has been gnawed at  by a dormouse are a neat smooth circular cut to the inside of the opening and tiny radiating teeth marks on the outside.

Badgers

Badgers occur all over the UK and can be found in gardens and suburbs most commonly in Southern , South Western  and Western counties.  Badgers are mainly nocturnal and it is unusual to see a badger in the day time.  You may not even realise that badgers visit your   garden at night  – a tell tale sign will be holes dug up where the badgers are hunting for earthworms. A male badger is called a boar, a female is a sow and the young are called cubs.

During feeding period of dry weather, feeding the badgers will be particularly helpful to them.  They are omnivores but will eat anything which takes their fancy .  Badgers like dog food (dried), bread, penut butter, cooked potato or fruit.  Avoid meat scraps, onion, cucumbers and citrus fruits.  Make sure they are fed infrequently so as the badgers don’t become to reliant on you.  In dry weather it’s also all good to put some water out for them – but not milk!

Interesting fact:

The Welsh name for badgers is ‘moch daear’ which translates to ‘earth pig’.

Bats – Pipistrelle

Pipistrelle bats have been recorded foraging on site, but no roosts were located .  Pipistrelles are a national and  Sussex Biodiversity Action Plan (Bap) protected  species.

They are the smallest  and most common bat in the U.K.  They tend to roost in bat boxes trees and buildings.

Interesting fact:

Bats are not blind but they see in the dark by listening to very high pitched echoes of their call bouncing off objects around them.

Foxes

As with badgers, foxes are omnivorous and will eat almost anything.  The largest part of an urban foxes diet is scavenged from human waste, although they will eat birds, mammals and invertebrates if available.  They are generally nocturnal animals and prefer to hunt at night.  The fox plays an important part in the food chain as it eats rodents and helps control an excess of their population.

Interesting fact:

Foxes can hear a watch ticking from 40 yards away!