Water for Wildlife
Mini Water areas
Water is vital for wildlife to thrive, but it goes beyond just drinking! Amphibians need water for shelter and as a breeding ground, birds bathe in water to get rid of parasites and butterflies obtain vital minerals and salts from slightly muddy water.
However butterflies can’t land on open water which makes them reliant on shallow puddles and wet sand or soil. To support them you can set up a little butterfly puddling station, using a shallow dish, some gravel and sand. Check out this link for a tutorial
Providing an open source of water in your garden not only important in hot summer months but also in winter, as many shallow water sites might be frozen.
So why not set up a small water feature? It’s super easy and you can make use of things you most likely already have like plastic planter pots, some bricks or if you want to go all out “you could try linking tubs of different heights together using a pre-cast plastic waterfall which can overflow into another tub below” says the RSPB.
See this post by the RSPB for a more detailed guide
If you’re interested in making a birth bath for your feathery visitors this page by the RSPB is a great resource.
If you install a bird bath in your garden, be sure that it has gradual edges and is not completely smooth but instead roughly textured. You can also add a hanging drip jug above the bird bath which will attract even more birds because the hear the dripping water.
You may also consider creating a damp ditch in your garden. Our natural landscape is not flat like most gardens. So by digging a shallow ditch where a bit of run-off water can accumulate you mimic the natural features of our rising and falling countryside and provide a more diverse habitat for your local wildlife including hedgehogs, reptiles and song thrushes.
This website has a list of what you will need and a step by step guide as well as a video demonstrating how to dig a damp ditch
South Downs National Park Ranger Jan Knowlson also recommends setting up hoverfly lagoons which is a lot fun for kids.
You only need an old bucket, some leaf litter and a stick in the middle. Then half fill it with water and you’ve created a breeding habitat for hoverflies!
Follow this link for a more detailed guide
Butterfly pudding station / photo by Save Our Monarchs https://www.saveourmonarchs.org/blog/help-with-a-little-h20-supporting-monarchs-from-your-own-garden. Small water feature – mini pond / photo by Nature Volunteers UK https://www.naturevolunteers.uk/wildlife-pond-2. Bird bath / photo via Backyard Boss https://www.backyardboss.net/best-bird-bath-ideas-for-any-yard. Hoverfly Lagoon / Photo via Gardener’s World https://www.gardenersworld.com/how-to/grow-plants/how-to-create-a-hoverfly-lagoon.