Wildlife advice

Wildlife

Wildlife advice

Dunnock by Bob Tunstall

Take a look below to find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions that we get asked about wildlife...

I've found something I can't identify. Can you help me please?

We don’t have the resources to come out to your home so if possible please send in a photograph and description via email or visit our wildlife explorer pages.

I’ve got an injured animal, what can I do with it?

Unfortunately the Trust is not able to take injured animals or offer anything other than very generic advice about animal care and welfare. Please contact Vale Wildlife Rescue Centre, the local animal hospital in Beckford, as they should be able to deal with your query much more successfully. You can contact them on 01386 882 288. Alternatively the RSPCA can be contacted on 0870 5555 999.

If you're in the north of the county and find an injured or sick hedgehog you can contact Willows Hedgehog Rescue, based in Bromsgrove, on 07518 354408.  If you're in the west of the county you can contact Malvern Hedgehog Rescue.

What do I do with the baby bird in my garden?

Baby birds should be left alone if at all possible. The parents are almost certainly still nearby and will come back to their young so long as they are not disturbed. Where young birds are under immediate threat from cats or other domestic pets it would be sensible to lift them up onto a nearby branch or fence out of harm’s way. If the bird’s condition obviously deteriorates please contact the Vale Wildlife Rescue Centre on 01386 882 288.

There’s a bat clinging to the wall of my house. What should I do?

Under normal circumstances it’s best to leave all wild animals alone. However, if bats are felt to be particularly vulnerable it would be sensible to move them to a more elevated and sheltered position, perhaps under a roof eave or into a tree trunk cavity, provided that they can be positioned high up and in such a way as to allow them to fly off of their own accord. All bats are fully protected by law and should not usually be handled without a licence. Further information is available from the Bat Conservation Trust, Natural England or you can contact the Vale Wildlife Rescue Centre.  As with all wild animals, please wear gloves when handling.

When’s the best time to cut our hedges?

Hedges can be extremely valuable for wildlife and in particular for nesting birds and for the berry crop that they provide. It is therefore best to cut them in sections (perhaps only half the length or just one side at a time) where they are big or berry-laden. Cutting in late autumn or winter is ideal but earlier in the year can be acceptable depending on circumstance. As a general rule it’s best not to cut them between the end of February and the end of August in order to avoid nesting birds, which are fully protected by law.

A local is flailing hedges and it’s the middle of the bird breeding season. What should I do?

If you are certain that there are nesting birds using the hedge and that their occupied nests are (or have been) damaged then you should contact the police. You can contact them on the non-emergency number 0300 333 3000 if the work has been completed or 999 if it’s ongoing and you consider there to be an immediate risk to an occupied nest.

How do I keep badgers out of my garden/from destroying my lawn?

Badgers are extremely powerful and determined animals and can be very hard to deter once they are used to visiting a site. They are often attracted to gardens because of the high value food available. This can be especially noticeable in dry conditions when invertebrates are hard to find in the wider countryside but can still be available in watered gardens. Deterring badgers can be hard and we would recommend that you seek specialist advice from Natural England . Remember that badgers are fully protected by law and some forms of exclusion can require licensing. It’s also unlawful to stop-up badger holes without an appropriate licence.

I’ve found a dead badger, what do I do with it?

There is no need to remove the animal but it would be helpful if you could send details of the record to the Worcestershire Biological Records Centre.

I’m worried that I’ve just seen someone digging up a badger sett. What do I do?

Disturbing a badger sett without a licence is unlawful and if you’re certain that the holes in question were occupied by badgers you should call the police immediately on 0300 333 3000 or 999 if the diggers are still present.

I think I’ve just seen someone hare coursing. What should I do?

Please contact the police on 0300 333 3000 to report the incident if the coursing has stopped or call them on 999 immediately if the coursing is still ongoing.

I have too much frogspawn. Where can I take it?

Frogs produce a lot of eggs to help ensure that as many as possible survive the effects of bad weather and predation. So while you may have a lot of frogspawn now, it will reduce very quickly. This is a process that will continue for the tadpoles as they develop into froglets; only a handful will survive to adulthood from the initial thousands of eggs.

In urban areas garden ponds are now key habitats for our native amphibians such as frogs and newts. We would therefore advise that unless you really need to remove it, you leave it to develop and take pride that your garden is of good enough quality to be an urban nature reserve. It’s also worth remembering that removing spawn to other ponds can upset their existing ecosystem and has the potential to spread disease around.

How do I humanely get rid of moles in my garden?

Sonic deterrents are available from garden centres and may be quite successful in some circumstances.

Where can we go to see otters?

Otters are now widespread in Worcestershire and can be found on almost all watercourses. However, they are very shy and hard to spot so it’s difficult to suggest good locations to try. There have been a number of records at our reserve at Upton Warren and they have been found on the River Avon near Eckington and Pershore, in several places along the River Severn and in the River Salwarpe at Droitwich. Unfortunately the best advice we can give is to spend lots of time (especially at dawn and dusk) out and about near the bigger rivers in the county.

Where can we go to see wildlife?

We have a fantastic range of nature reserves covering the whole county. Please check out our reserves pages for more information.

How do I go about creating a wildflower meadow?

This depends entirely upon context. If creating a small meadow within a formal garden setting, there are some recommended companies that specialise in the production of UK-native wildflower seeds and plug-plants. However, if the planned site is within an agricultural field or in a wider countryside context, then more thought and attention needs to be given in the planning stages to a range of factors:

  • what is the existing grass sward like? You may need a skilled botanical surveyor to determine this.
  • where is the source of the seed? This should always be as local as possible to avoid inappropriate introductions.
  • what techniques will you be using e.g. spreading hay, spreading green hay, slot seeding?

With all this in mind we suggest that you email us with details of your query and we will make sure that the right person gets back in touch as soon as possible. In the meantime, why not take a look at the grasslands page of our website.

Could someone give me advice on wildlife in orchards?

Worcestershire is famed for its many traditional orchards. Mature and veteran orchard trees provide a multi-layered habitat for a wealth of wildlife – mistletoe, hole-nesting birds such as nuthatch and woodpeckers, bats in the tree cavities, lichens on the branches, rare beetles and often wildflower grasslands in the understorey. Please email us with details of your query and we will make sure that the right person gets back in touch as soon as possible.

Can I get some help and advice to manage my land for wildlife?

This depends on how much and what kind of land you have. Take a look in the first instance at our gardening for wildlife page and our protecting wildlife in Worcestershire pages. If you can't find what you need, then please email us with details of your query and we'll make sure that the right person gets in touch with you.

I’ve got lots of bees going into the roof of my house/shed – what’s going on?

It sounds like you have tree bumblebees.  We have lots of queries about them from late May onwards; they’ve only been in the county for a relatively short period of time (years rather than decades) so are relatively new to many people.  They would naturally nest in holes in trees, hence the name, but they’ll also nest in bird boxes and roof spaces.  They’re pretty easy to identify – very chestnut thorax and a black body with a white tail.

The lifecycle of a bumblebee nest is that a queen finds a suitable location and begins to build her nest.  This involves her provisioning pollen and nectar for herself and her first offspring.  The offspring, all worker females, go out to forage for more pollen to feed the young.  As the nest matures, the queen lays males and new queens.  It will be the males that you see dancing around outside the nest – they’re waiting for the queens to emerge so that they can be the one to pass their genes on to the next generation.  The whole process can take 3-4 months and by the time you start to notice the activity, the nest will already be producing males and queens and, as such, is declining rather than growing.

There is no real need to worry.  Bumblebees don’t produce honey in the same way that honeybees do so you won’t have honey dripping from your ceiling!  The nests are light and dry and the bees don’t chew through wood or bore holes.  The male bees that are hanging around are stingless and only have one thing on their minds.  The females can sting but will only do so if you threaten them or the nest. 

If you’re concerned about it for the future, you could wait for this year’s cycle to complete itself and, once all the bees have moved out, block the hole to prevent another nest next year.  Depending on the size of the space that they’re using, they may already have used the suitable space and there may be no room for a new nest.  If you’d like to still provide somewhere for them to set up a nest, you could erect a bird box (you may get birds instead of bees)!

My lawn is swarming with bees – what’s going on?

It sounds like you have ivy bees; they emerge in September and October.  They’re a solitary bee but they happen to nest in close proximity to each other.  The males normally emerge first and then hang around for the females to emerge.  You’ll notice them by the mini-mountains of soil that they create as they emerge from their nests and then excavate new nests. You may have hundreds or even thousands in your lawn and surrounding flower beds.

The females dig tunnels beyond 30-40cm or so and then have a series of chambers off each tunnel in which to lay their eggs.  Although the adults can feed on nectar from any flower they can only provision their eggs/larvae with pollen from ivy (once it’s flowered, the ivy berries are great for birds so please leave it until spring before cutting or pruning it).

Ivy bees were new to the county in 2013 with one record in Stourbridge.  In 2016 we put out a plea for records of ivy bee sightings and produced this short video about ivy bees, that you may find interesting.  We now know that ivy bees can be seen in most of the county but it would be great to add your bees to the list. If you’re happy to let us have your postcode, we’ll pass the information to Worcestershire Biological Records Centre who hold records of wildlife for the county.

The bees are pretty harmless.  Only the females are able to sting but they’re very unlikely to do so unless they feel threatened (and they have a very weak sting if they do).  They’re great for aerating the soil but it does mean that mowing the lawn is a little trickier than normal – if you’re able to leave mowing for a few weeks that would be great.  Depending on the weather and the ivy season, the action is normally over within 3-4 weeks when everything should settle down and it will be as though they were never there.  The young, of course, will be buried under the lawn until next September when it starts all over again for a few weeks.