Five creatures to spot in your garden...

From sunrise to sunset, look and listen out for these creatures in your garden…

Did you know that our collective gardens cover a bigger area than all of our nature reserves combined? Our gardens can be fantastic homes for wildlife, from tiny bugs to snuffling hedgehogs.

Here's what to look out for during the Great Yorkshire Creature Count, and some tips for helping to attract more wild friends!

Waking up to a chorus of birds

As dawn breaks, gardens across the country are awoken to the beautiful chorus of birdsong. From March to July, our feathered neighbours set their alarm clocks early to defend their territories and attract a mate whilst it’s tricky for predators to spot them. 

Blackbirds and robins are amongst the earliest to rise – perhaps to catch the worms, a staple in their diets. Smaller birds such as wrens, join in a little later when the temperature starts to rise and the insects they feed on appear too.

As well as feeding your garden birds, don’t forget to provide a regular supply of clean water too (for drinking and bathing).

The buzz gets going… 

As the flowers open their petals to greet the sun, garden bumblebees get to work… Look out for a large and scruffy bee with a white tail buzzing around your plants. They have the longest tongue of all our bumblebees – stretching up to 2cm which is as long as its body! This enables them to reach right inside flowers like foxgloves to collect the pollen and return it to their underground nests.

It’s no secret that bees are in trouble but our gardens can make a real difference, from planning nectar and pollen-rich flowers, letting your grass grow and encouraging hoverflies, beetles and ladybirds to manage your pest control rather than chemicals. 

Common frog © Jim Higham

Common frog © Jim Higham

Lazy afternoons by the water

The simplest of ponds can attract our most well-known amphibian, the common frog – recognisable by their smooth skin (which distinguishes them from toads) and long legs for jumping. During the spring, they return to our ponds to breed, laying spawn in jelly-like clumps. During the summer, they can be found in damp shading spots near your pond as they cool off in the hot weather. Between June-September, froglets will leave the water en masse so watch your step!

If you see a frog in your garden but don’t have a pond, it’s likely it’s looking for one that used to be there. Why not create one following our guide. If you have a pond already, make sure it slopes to dry land on one side and by placing a log pile nearby, frogs will have the ultimate pond-side snack bar!

Hedgehog

A special guest for supper

As night begins to fall, inset-rich lawns and flowerbeds provide excellent feeding grounds for hedgehogs – your slugs will soon be hovered up! The bottom of thick hedges and piles of leaves are welcome spots to nest during the daytime and hibernate over the winter. With plentiful food and shelter, our gardens are one of the most important places for these iconic British creatures, whose numbers are sadly in decline.

Throughout the night, hedgehogs can roam up to 1 mile on the search for food or a mate and by making a small gap in our fences, we can link our gardens together to create a ‘hedgehog highway’. 

Chimney sweep moth

Chimney sweep moth

Moonlight mysteries

Whilst colourful butterflies bring joy to our gardens in the sunshine, the darkness of the night welcomes the wonderful world of moths – our back gardens could be home to hundreds of species. Get to know these wild neighbours by laying a white sheet on a washing line and shining a bright light underneath it. A display of fascinating patterns and surprisingly bright colours will soon appear!

Planting flowers that release their scent through the night are big draw for moths such as evening promise and honeysuckle. Holly, ivy and hawthorn also satisfy hungry caterpillars of moths. Gardening for moths means you can put your feet up – fallen leaves and old stems help them to hide from predators. They love weeds too!