What do you think a water vole, barn owl or a bee might ask for if they were given one wish in 2017?
New Year is the perfect time for making wishes come true! We’ve developed #MyWildWish as a way to help wildlife, and become a voice for their needs. We hope these wildlife wishes from local species and BBOWT staff and volunteers inspire you to do something great for our local species in 2017.
You'll be surprised how easy it is to help and get involved.
Do you have a wish for our local wildlife?
Share your wildlife wishes with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using #MyWildWish hashtag for a chance of them featuring on BBOWT's social media, this page and within our Nature Notes newsletter.
Not on social media? You can still take part in our #MyWildWish by submitting your wish below.
Sign up to our e-newsletter and we'll keep you updated on the progress of the #MyWildWish campaign.
#MyWildWish: A wish for butterflies
Cold, wet weather reduces the chances butterflies and moths have to feed and mate. This year we had a wet spring and last year the summer was colder than normal so our butterflies have had a difficult time recently. A warm and dry spring in 2017 would help butterflies and moths greatly.
Help butterflies and moths in your own garden by creating a small area of wild flowers
Image credit: Common blues by Colin Williams.
#MyWildWish: A wish for hedgehogs
Let some areas of your garden grow wild for hedgehogs and other wildlife. Hedgehogs may spend the winter in your garden if you provide the right conditions; hibernating peacefully inside a hedge, under a garden shed, or in a pile of wood.
Make a hedgehog's wish come true by making your garden hedgehog-friendly.
Image credit: Hedgehog by Tom Marshall.
#MyWildWish: Brown hairstreak's wish
Brown hairstreak butterfly wishes for more volunteers to carefully chop back the thick blackthorn hedgerows on our Bucks nature reserves so that it can lay eggs on the young growth. The larvae of brown hairstreak butterflies feed only on the young leaves of blackthorn.
Make a brown hairstreak butterfly's wish come true by becoming a BBOWT volunteer
Image credit: Brown hairstreak by John O'Dwyer.
#MyWildWish: A wish for swifts
Screaming parties of swifts sweeping across the skies is one of the quintessential sights and sounds of summer. But swifts need more homes! At BBOWT HQ we have put up swift boxes on our building, and look forward to seeing swifts swooping in next May.
Read more about how we're helping swifts at BBOWT HQ
Image credit: Swift by Derek Keats.
#MyWildWish: A badger’s wish
Nobody knows for sure how many wild animals are killed on the UK’s roads each year. But everyone who drives can help by looking out for wildlife close to roads, particularly during the dark when animals are more active. Slow down on country roads and be prepared for animals trying to cross.
Become a citizen scientist and send your sightings of wildlife roadkill to Project Splatter.
Image credits: Badger by Peter Trimming and Jon Hawkins, Surrey Hills Photography.
#MyWildWish: A blue tit’s wish
Blue tits and long tailed tits can spend up to 85% of daytime feeding just to survive the cold winter months. Keep your bird feeders topped up with high quality fat products like peanuts or fat blocks with seeds in, put out fresh water for birds to drink and leave windfall apples, berries on hedges and seeds on plants for birds to eat too.
Stock up on bird food for your garden birds at Vine House Farm, and help your local Wildlife Trust too.
Image credit: Blue tit by Jacob Spinks.
#MyWildWish: A frog's wish
Frogs spend the winter hiding in log piles and under leaves, but come springtime they’ll be hopping to the nearest pond to breed and lay jelly-like frogspawn. Creating a small pond for frogs will benefits lots of other wildlife too, and frogs are the gardener’s friend because they eat slugs!
Create a wildlife haven in your garden with a pond.
Image credit: Common frog by Jim Higham.
#MyWildWish: A wish for thrushes
Thrushes are abundant in our field hedgerows during the winter, devouring scarlet rose hips, hawthorn and rowan berries. See the distinctive red flashes of redwing flying in the winter sunshine. Hear the ‘chacker, chack’ call of flocks of fieldfare flying over the countryside. The melodic mistle thrush sings atop holly trees guarding his ‘buffet’!
Learn how you tell the difference between redwings and fieldfares.
Image credit: Fieldfare by Margaret Holland.
#MyWildWish: A bat's wish
Seventeen species of bat live and breed in the UK. All of them are protected under European legislation, but for how long? The Wildlife Trusts and other conservation groups are campaigning for this protection to continue after the UK leaves Europe.
Bats hibernate in winter, some in caves and entrances to tunnels, others inside roof spaces and hollow trees. From March they will be flying at dusk and dawn hunting for insects and other invertebrates that are seeking nectar. Astonishingly a tiny common pipistrelle bat is believed to eat up to 3,000 insects a night.
Find out how to grow a banquet in your garden to feed insects and bats, or build a bat box.
Image credit: Noctule by Tom Marshall.
#MyWildWish: A water vole's wish
BBOWT’s Water Vole Recovery Project is the longest running in the country. We work with landowners to ensure more sites are improved for water voles and help to control American mink, the water voles’ main predator.
If we can ensure there are earth banks for water voles to burrow into, an array of plants and grasses for their food and cover, and the mink are kept in check, then water voles will quickly spread out and move into new areas to set up home.
Tell us about your water vole sightings by completing our online survey form, use the online survey form to report sightings of American mink and get in touch to let us know if you are actively controlling mink.
Image credits: Water voles by Tom Marshall.
#MyWildWish: A wish for nightjars
Heathland is a very rare habitat. Only a tiny fraction of what existed two hundred years ago still survives today, putting immense pressure on the wildlife that relies on these rough, heathery areas, including rare ground nesting birds such as nightjar. 50% of BBOWT’s heathland nature reserves support nightjars and in 2015 more than 12 pairs were recorded.
Nightjars roost in the daytime and are active from dusk to dawn. They eat moths and other large flying insects, which they catch on the wing.
In August or September they begin the long flight to southern Africa where they over-winter, only returning to the UK in late April and May for the start of the breeding season
Find out more about nightjars and how you can help them.
Image credit: Nightjar by Katie Fuller.
#MyWildWish: A barn owl’s wish
Barn owls need natural grasslands full of small animals such as mice and voles on which to feed. They are skilled hunters, able to fly almost silently. With their exceptional hearing they can find prey by sound alone, even in the dark or under long grass!
However, their specially adapted feathers are not particularly waterproof, which means they cannot hunt in heavy rain, and are particularly prone to starvation during prolonged periods of severe weather.
Read our 14 facts revealing the magic behind barn owls’ superpowers, and what you can do to help them.
Image credit: Don Sutherland, Phil Luckhurst.
#MyWildWish: A wish for Nature Tots
We know that first-hand contact with nature is good for children. It makes them happier, healthier and more creative and for some it can have a life-changing impact.
But some children are missing out on the contact with nature their parents and grandparents are likely to have known. This is partly due to the changes in our everyday lives and partly due to diminishing opportunities. Wild places are vanishing and wild animals such as turtle doves and hedgehogs have declined massively over the past 50 years.
Our Nature Tots sessions provide an opportunity for pre-school little ones to interact with and learn from nature. Children can experience outdoor nature play, games, stories and craft on our wild and wonderful nature reserves.
Find out more about Nature Tots sessions are run regularly at 3 of our Educations Centres.
Photo credit: Ric Mellis.
#MyWildWish: A duck’s wish
Throwing bread to the ducks maybe a favourite pastime, but did you know bread isn’t actually great for a duck's health?
It's nothing like their natural diet, so don't over feed them with large quantities of it.
Uneaten bread quickly goes mouldy and may attract rats.
Why not try frozen peas or leftover lettuce instead?
See the top 5 things you didn’t know you could feed ducks.
Image credit: Jon Hawkins, Chris Maguire.
#MyWildWish: A wish for ivy
Ivy is a wonderful plant for wildlife.
During spring ivy provides nesting cover for birds, the dense foliage hides them from predators. The berries provide an excellent winter food for birds such as redwing, robin, blackcap and many more.
Ivy’s late flowering season means it also provides an excellent source of nectar for bees and other insects when there is little else to feed upon.
So please do learn to love this wonderful native species as it brings so many delights to the garden even in the bleakest of seasons.
There are more great gardening tips on our website.
Image credit: Amy Lewis.
#MyWildWish: A wish for wildlife
Thousands of sky lanterns (also known as Chinese lanterns) are sold in the UK each year. However most people have no idea of the harmful consequences the release of sky lanterns can have for animals.
Wild birds and animals, as well as livestock, can become entangled in the wire or bamboo frames, or even eat parts of the lantern leading to injury or death. There is also the risk of fire on dry heath and grassland.
You can help by discouraging people you know from using them.
Photo credit: Jirka Matousek.
#MyWildWish: A red admiral’s wish
We often give nettles a wide berth, quickly removing them from our gardens. But did you know this often unwanted plant is invaluable to wildlife, especially butterflies?
Nettles support a huge number of insect species, which in turn attract birds and other wildlife. Having a patch of nettles in your garden is especially beneficial to several butterfly species.
Nettles are also an important larval food plant for red admirals, as well as small tortoiseshell and peacocks. They lay singular eggs on nettle leaves that hatch after around a week.
Help more butterflies and other insects to thrive in your garden by leaving a wild patch. There are more great gardening tips on our website.
Photo credit: Amy Lewis
#MyWildWish: A wish for badgers
Vaccination significantly reduces the chances of badgers contracting bovine tuberculosis. In 2015 BBOWT completed its first year of badger vaccinations under Defra’s Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme. Badgers have been vaccinated within our nature reserves in western Oxfordshire and Berkshire, as well as on land within the wider West Berks Living Landscape area.
A current shortage of the vaccine has halted the programme, but The Wildlife Trusts remain committed to the delivery of badger vaccination as one of a number of measures against TB in cattle and will resume vaccination as soon as possible.
Find out more about badgers and Bovine TB.
Photo credit: Tom Marshall.
#MyWildWish: A wish for ancient woodlands
Our ancient woodlands are rich in wildlife. 9.9% (1.3 million hectares) of England is woodland, but only 1.2% is semi-natural ancient woodland.
Woodlands support a diverse range of specialist species including the silver-washed fritillary butterfly, and Bechstein’s bat, one of the UK’s rarest mammals, with possibly only 1500 adults in the entire population. According to the State of Nature 2016, 11% of all woodland species are threatened with extinction in Great Britain.
BBOWT manages 997 hectares of woodland, including Finemere Wood, a fragment of the ancient Royal Forest of Bernwood, used for hunting by Kings and Queens.
Fine out more about Charlotte’s important work at Finemere Wood.
Photo credit: Andy Fairbairn.
#MyWildWish: A blackbird’s wish
Birds need water for drinking and bathing. Water is particularly important during the winter when natural supplies may be frozen.
If you don’t have a bird bath, use a large plant pot saucer or similar shallow container. Keep it topped up, free of ice and clean to stop the spread of diseases like salmonella.
Learn how to identify the birds in your garden this winter.
Photo credit: Jon Hawkins, Surrey Hills Photography.