Ten ways to make space for nature in your life this winter
Since 1994 we’ve lost 15% of our wildlife in Scotland, but most of us want to do more to help nature. From picking up litter, to putting out bird feeders and water, it all helps, plus it’s good for your health. Winter is a great season to head out and breathe in the season. Wrap up warm and follow our top tips.
1. Feed the locals
Bruised or overly-soft fruit can be left out for badgers, foxes and birds. Cut fruit in half and leave on grass or spike on a tree branch. If cats or dogs are nearby avoid grapes and dried fruit as these can cause them harm.
2. Encourage lazy gardening
Leaving areas overgrown or filled with leaves gives insects, amphibians and small animals a cosy place to hide during colder months. Leave plants intact with seed heads as many insects overwinter in hollow stems. If you've no garden, encourage friends, councils, and businesses with outdoor spaces to do this.
3. Notice what's nearby
We discovered more local walks during lockdown. There's plenty of wildlife to spot, particularly in urban parks and local paths - from ducks to deer. If feeding ducks, do not give them bread. Instead try sweetcorn, porridge oats, and bird seed.
4. Volunteer time for nature
One of the best things to do for nature is volunteering. From counting squirrels to building paths and planting trees, there are many ways to help while meeting new friends, gaining work experience and getting outdoors. Volunteer with NatureScot, see our list of environmental volunteering organisations or visit Volunteer Scotland.
5. Help our feathered friends
Whether you live in a flat or a house with a garden, you can add bird feeders to your space. Ensure you clean them out regularly, create a regular feeding schedule, keep them topped up, and provide water too. Try putting out sunflower hearts, quality peanuts, nyjer seed, and/or high-energy seed mixes. Fat balls are a great energy source during winter, and cheap to make at home.
6. Provide water for wildlife
Garden ponds are a great water source for wildlife but not everyone has the space. Even using an old washing-up bowl of water or a deep saucer of water on a windowsill can help. If you do have a pond, a prolonged freeze can mean problems for fish and hibernating frogs in ponds. Gently crack the ice with a stick to make a hole, or float a ball in the water to stop it freezing.
7. Share what you see
Submit sightings of any birds, animals, plants and more. The iRecord website and app is easy to use and collects everyday wildlife sightings, so they can be checked by experts to support research.
8. Take action now
Following our tips helps nature, now and in the future. Spending time outdoors means you're more likely to care for and respect nature, thereby helping fight nature loss and climate change.
9. Learn outdoors
We all learn outdoors no matter our age. Spot frosty patterns on leaves, use bird ID apps, simply listen to bird song, or help your local school or nursery to connect with nature by by highlighting this website full of useful resources.
10. Enjoy the benefits
We de-stress, feel energised, and improve our physical and mental health when outdoors. Keep consistent - arrange walks with a friend, set a motivational alarm or head out at lunch to enjoy daylight and a daily dose of Vitamin D.