Hedgehogs prove elusive but foxes parade loud and proud

Tim Webb

Tuesday 14 June 2016

· New data reveals that less than 6 per cent of people in Greater London see hedgehogs in their gardens at least once a month, a startling 20 per cent lower than the national average.

· Gardens cover an estimated ten million acres in the UK, an area the size of five million football pitches, therefore have the potential to play pivotal role in efforts to reverse the fortunes of struggling UK wildlife

· The RSPB is calling on people to get involved in Giving Nature a Home this summer by doing at least one thing for wildlife in their garden or outdoor space

· New online digital tool launched this week by the RSPB that allows people to create their own personalised nature plan to help struggling wildlife in their area

The RSPB is calling on Londoners to get involved in Giving Nature a Home this summer by doing at least one thing for wildlife in their garden or outdoor space after new data revealed further declines in sightings of some of our most familiar and favourite garden species.

Results from the wildlife survey showed only 6 per cent of London residents see hedgehogs in their gardens at least once a month, almost 20 percent lower than the already declining national average. There were 13 percent fewer sightings nationally than were recorded in 2014.

This pattern of decline in sightings is apparent across both rural and suburban gardens, yet in other urban areas the number of people who have reported seeing a hedgehog on a monthly basis has increased by 12 percent in the last two years (26 percent overall). Hedgehog populations remain in a long-term decline with the latest figures suggesting that the UK population has dipped to under one million.

The numbers of people who have never seen a hedgehog in their garden continued to grow to 25 per cent, up 11 per cent since 2014.

The UK's Gardens cover an estimated ten million acres, That's four times the size of all the RSPB's nature reserves combined. In London, private gardens account for about a quarter of the capital's green space. Each and every one of these green spaces can make a difference, from a window box full of pollen rich plants for bumblebees to a small pond hosting a whole range of different species.

The RSPB is calling on people to help save nature this summer by getting involved in Giving Nature a Home, and doing at least one action for wildlife in their garden or outdoor space.

Daniel Hayhow, RSPB Conservation Scientist, said: "With the right care and attention your garden could become a home to all kinds of different species, and you could have front row seats to some amazing wildlife shows. The UK is home to some fascinating garden wildlife from bugs to butterflies, hedgehogs to house sparrows. Our outdoor spaces provide these species with the homes they need to survive.

"It's interesting to see a rise in the number of people recording sightings of some of our struggling garden wildlife, and although this isn't suggesting population changes, it could mean that people are becoming much more aware of the species they can find in their back garden."

For the first time London residents were asked to keep an eye out for foxes and stoats visiting their garden. The results revealed that foxes were the second most common visitor, with 81 per cent of people spotting one in their garden at least once a month this year, almost double the national average.

Grey squirrels remained the most common garden visitor for the third year running, with 76 per cent of UK participants spotting one scurrying across their garden at least once a month. In Greater London, this figure increased to 94 per cent.

Tim Webb, Communication Officer, said: "London residents are lucky to have some amazing green spaces around them. Gardens can provide an invaluable resource to animals travelling between these spaces or looking to set up new territories. Something as small as creating gaps in fences to allow hedgehogs to roam can have huge benefits to the population in your area."

Daniel Hayhow added: "By providing shelter and a safe place to make a home, gardens provide an invaluable resource and are a key element in helping to save nature, perhaps even playing a pivotal role in reversing some declines."

To help people create their own wildlife friendly gardens, the RSPB has launched a new online tool this week to help build their own personalised plan for nature. The plan will be unique to the individual and will not only target their favourite species, but the wildlife that is struggling in that particular part of the country.

You can create your own personal plan and give nature a home near you at www.rspb.org.uk/plan

1. The RSPB is the UK's largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home. Together with our partners, we protect threatened birds and wildlife so our towns, coast and countryside will teem with life once again. We play a leading role in BirdLife International, a worldwide partnership of nature conservation organisations.

2. 189,162 Big Garden Birdwatch participants provided information about other wildlife that visits their garden. The overall UK results are:

2016

At least monthly (%)

Ever this year (%)

Never (%)

Don't know (%)

Badger

11.6

23.7

65.4

10.9

Grey squirrel

75.8

90.9

6.7

2.3

Red squirrel

3.0

5.5

88.5

6.1

Hedgehog

24.6

63.2

23.5

13.2

Slow worm

6.2

23.6

56.4

20.0

Grass snake

1.4

13.5

69.2

17.3

Fox

41.4

70.9

20.5

8.6

Stoat

1.9

11.8

75.4

12.8

% change 2015 to 2016

At least monthly (%)

Ever this year (%)

Never (%)

Don't know (%)

Badger

5.5

-4.9

2.1

-19.1

Grey squirrel

1.6

2.9

-14.6

-9.6

Red squirrel

14.8

19.3

0.2

-12.3

Hedgehog

-3.1

-13.7

18.1

-10.6

Slow worm

0.8

-19.0

11.3

-22.8

Grass snake

-6.4

-40.7

11.6

-26.7

3. Top five garden visitors in Greater London:

Rank

Species

County

At least once a month

Seen this year

Never

Don't know

1

Grey squirrel

Greater London

93.6

98.7

0.7

0.7

2

Fox

Greater London

81.5

96.9

1.4

1.7

3

Hedgehog

Greater London

5.5

26.0

56.0

18.0

4

Badger

Greater London

5.3

11.7

81.0

7.4

5

Slow worm

Greater London

3.5

11.6

68.6

19.8

4. The RSPB is working with a number of partners to provide expert information and guidance. Including:

I. Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust (ARC) is a national wildlife charity committed to conserving amphibians and reptiles and saving the disappearing habitats on which they depend: arc-trust.org

II. Established in 1954, The Mammal Society is a charity advocating science-led mammal conservation, leading efforts to collect and share information on mammals, encourage research to learn more about their ecology and distribution, and contribute meaningfully effort to conserve them: mammal.org.uk

III. In a constant changing world where wildlife is under threat, many species are declining at an alarming rate. Since 1977 People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) has been helping to ensure a future for many endangered species throughout the world: ptes.org

5. The RSPB offers everything to easily create a haven for wildlife in your garden. All our expertise has been used to develop the very best food and homes, using sustainable materials whenever possible. All the profits from our shop go towards helping birds and wildlife. Browse below, or view our online shop for our full range of products: rspb.org.uk/shop

Last Updated: Tuesday 28 August 2018

Tagged with: Country: England Topic: Big Garden Birdwatch