Give a home to the nature on your doorstep

Photo Neil Cross'Fiona Finlayson and her hedgehogs

Photo Neil Cross'Fiona Finlayson and her hedgehogs

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The RSPB is encouraging people to get out and uncover the secrets of their gardens and outdoor spaces,

This comes after the second round of RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch highlighted the importance of gardens to threatened UK wildlife.

A total of 65 per cent of RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch participants reported seeing a hedgehog snuffling around their garden at some point in the year. But over half revealed they’d never set eyes on a slow worm or grass snake slithering in and around their garden.

In excess of 585,000 people across the UK took part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch in January, with 72 per cent of them also supplying information on the other garden wildlife they saw throughout the year.

Daniel Hayhow, RSPB Conservation Scientist, said: “Once again the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch survey has highlighted how important our gardens are for an amazing variety of wildlife living there.

“A lot of garden wildlife is in desperate need of our help. By providing shelter and a safe place to make a home, gardens provide an invaluable resource and are a key element in helping to save nature, perhaps even playing a pivotal role in reversing some declines.”

For the second year running, grey squirrels remained the most widely-spotted non-bird visitor, with 74 per cent of participants spotting one scurrying across their garden or climbing up a tree at least once a month.

At the other end of the scale, the grey’s native relative, the red squirrel, continued to struggle and was one of the least-seen species – with just two per cent of people seeing one on a monthly basis.

The red squirrel is under threat by loss and fragmentation of woodland habitat, and a lethal virus carried by the grey, and has been lost from large parts of the UK.

This virus is relatively harmless to grey squirrels, but is fatal to reds.

Hedgehogs remained a popular garden visitor for the second year running. More than 65 per cent of people set eyes on the spiny species throughout the year, although it is thought populations have declined by 30 per cent since 2003 – with less than a million left in the UK.

Badgers were spotted by twice as many people living in rural areas than those living in suburban or urban areas, with over 40 per cent reporting to have seen one during the year.

The RSPB is encouraging people across the UK go out and explore their garden or outdoor space to uncover the wonderful wildlife that is living there.

The State of Nature report revealed that many garden favourites, such as starlings, hedgehogs and butterflies, were all in trouble.

By giving a home to the nature on our doorstep, everyone can help reverse these wildlife declines.

The RSPB are highly enthusiastic about the help that they provide in building a better picture of UK wildlife.

For more information, visit rspb.org.uk.