So since we have had a save the tree’s advent window, it only seems appropriate that we do a window for the animals that call woodlands their home.
By protecting the environment and habitat of these wild animals, we can help them survive and thrive as us humans encroach ever further into their spaces.
As well as planting wild seeds in public places to encourage butterflies and insects, you can build little insect houses in your gardens. Use old toilet tubes we told you to save yesterday, or bits of wood to create Net Winged beetle hotels.
The Wildlife Trust will give you information about the various activities and charities happening near you. This might be bird box building, species watching and counts as well as lots of other ideas to help our struggling wildlife.
I couldn’t write about wildlife without mentioning the wee red squirrel. A resident of these islands for 10,000 years, a true indigenous species. These wee furry and fleeting creatures are being slowly eradicated by the grey squirrel and the pox they carry. The grey squirrels also eat fruit earlier in the year and reproduce more successfully than the native reds, competing with resources of the reds.
The reds prefer conifer forests and broadleaved woodland, however have thrived however alongside pox free greys in the central belt of Scotland. According to scottishsquirrels.org.uk there have been 2395 sightings reported of red squirrels this year.
We must also mention the sad fact that there may only be as few as 40 pure Scottish Wildcats left on the planet. The biggest threat to these animals is hybridisation. So if you live in an area where wildcats are known to roam, and you have cats, ensure they are spayed/neutered.
In most instances however, the main threat to animals, is of course us. Humans. Shockingly some people still go out of their way to purposefully kill or maim an animal. These might be landowners trying to get rid of species they see as pests, it could be organised groups such as poaching or hunting with dogs.
A big problem in Scotland recently has been the persecution of birds of prey. Look out for traps, baited posts and suspicious meats if you are out walking, whether locally with your pet or especially if hiking out in our countryside.
If you suspect a wildlife crime may have taken place you should contact the National Wildlife Crime Unit.
Did you know that in the top 10 of UK’s most endangered species are hedgehogs, turtle doves, red squirrels but also that 6 out of the 10 are in fact insects?
Insects play a vital roll in the ecosystem. Not only providing food for our birds and other small mammals, but also pollinating plants, trees and grasses.
The most vital insect in this process is of course the bee. Honey Bees, wild and domestic perform around 80% of the planet’s pollination. The humble bee is facing great challenges right now. Whole hives decimated by disease. Bee keepers in the US reporting up to 50% losses.
You can adopt a hive, there are various sites online. You can also get a free Christmas Bee Saver kit from Friends of the Earth.
Images and writing by Debra Torrance