As autumn leaves begin to fall and temperatures drop, Andrew De La Haye from the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust shares essential tips on how residents can help local wildlife prepare for the upcoming winter. From aiding hibernating hedgehogs to switching off outside lights to benefit bats, small actions can make a big difference.

Andrew emphasises that many creatures, like hedgehogs and bats, are currently storing energy for hibernation. Hedgehogs are particularly vulnerable during this period. "When temperatures drop, their food gets more scarce, so they need to slow their metabolism to preserve energy," Andrew explains. He suggests residents can leave hedges uncut and create piles of twigs and leaves as potential nesting spots. Before lighting bonfires, it's crucial to check for any hiding hedgehogs. Water, not milk, should be left out for these prickly friends.

Bats are another species that require attention. They build up reserves by feeding heavily during the autumn. "Provide a source of water as it also attracts insects, which bats eat," advises Andrew. Keeping outside areas dark aids bats in their nocturnal activities. Andrew also recommends installing hoods or cowls on outdoor lighting to prevent light from scattering upwards. To attract insects that bats feed on, consider planting flowers like daisies, honeysuckle, and aromatic herbs in your garden for the next year.

Andrew also points out the importance of water for all wildlife. "Even a small pond can be home to an interesting range of wildlife, including damsel and dragonflies, frogs, and newts," he says. These small water bodies can also serve as feeding grounds for birds, hedgehogs, and bats. Various household items like a washing up bowl or a disused sink can be repurposed into mini ponds.

For more information and tips on how to help local wildlife, the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust will be hosting a 'Wild About Ross' Pop-Up Shop between 2nd and 4th November. The RHS also provides a comprehensive guide on creating small ponds on its Wild About Gardens website.

Through these small actions, residents can contribute to the well-being of local wildlife, ensuring that they, too, get through the winter months comfortably.