New survey reveals mysterious creatures living in gardens across Wales

Eleri Wynne

Thursday 6 July 2017

· RSPB Cymru is calling on people to get outside this summer to uncover the mysterious creatures that are living in their back gardens by taking part in the Wild Challenge.

· Latest wildlife survey shows that hedgehogs, foxes and moles were among the most common creatures seen in gardens or outdoor spaces across Wales last year.

· Other species such as great crested newts, slow worm, grass snake and stag beetle were only seen by a lucky few.

A new survey has revealed that hedgehogs, foxes and moles are among the most common creatures that are making their homes in back gardens across the UK, with RSPB Cymru calling on families to get outside this summer to uncover the mysterious wildlife living in their outdoor spaces.

Results from the survey of more than 8,000 gardens in Wales revealed that hedgehogs were the most common garden visitor with one being spotted in 64% of outdoor spaces. Worryingly, almost one-quarter of gardens didn't record a sighting of the spiny mammal throughout the whole of last year. This pattern was apparent across England, with the figure rising close to 30% in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Moles spend most of their time alone, either digging an extensive network of tunnels or hunting for food only occasionally coming to the surface. The elusive creature was much more common in Wales than elsewhere with well over half of gardens (58%) catching a glimpse of one or their more familiar mole hills. Sightings of great crested newts were far scarcer, with the secretive reptile being spotted in only 6% of gardens in Wales.

Foxes were another common visitor to outdoor spaces across Wales with one being spotted in 61% of gardens, while grass snakes, slow worms and stag beetles were seen by far less.

Daniel Hayhow, RSPB Conservation Scientists, said: "Often the wildlife we see in our garden is the first experience we have with nature - whether it's a robin perched on the fence or a hedgehog snuffling around looking for its next meal. Unfortunately, the sights and sounds of wildlife that was once common to us are sadly becoming more mysterious to people.

"There are simple things we can all do to make our gardens perfect for wildlife. From creating a feeding station for birds or hedgehogs to digging a small pond to help amphibians, these easy activities can help turn your garden into a wildlife haven."

With the wildlife on people's doorsteps becoming increasingly mysterious to them, RSPB Cymru is calling on families to spend more time outside this summer and reconnect with the nature that surrounds them by taking on the Wild Challenge.

By completing fun and engaging activities ranging from minibeast safaris and rock pooling to creating a hedgehog cafe and planting for wildlife, families can take their first steps on their own wild adventure. There are 24 activities to choose from that will take you from your own back garden to exploring towns, cities, woodlands and even the coast.

Paul Birmingham, RSPB Families Manager, said: "Getting outside and discovering nature is important whether your motivation is happy healthy children, memorable family time or to see our towns and countryside richer in nature. The opportunity to connect with nature should be a part of every child's life and the RSPB's Wild Challenge is here to help every family go on their own wild adventure."

The RSPB's ambition is for the Wild Challenge to help more families across the country reap the benefits of spending time outside in nature. Research has shown4 that children who have a healthy connection to nature are more likely to benefit from higher achievement at school, better mental and physical health, and develop stronger social skills.

To learn more about the RSPB Wild Challenge and to see how you can take your firsts steps on your own wildlife adventure, visit www.rspb.org.uk/wildchallenge

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. 12,134 Big Garden Birdwatch participants (8,082 gardens) across Wales provided information about other wildlife that visits their garden. The overall Wales for results are:

2017

At least monthly %

Ever this year %

Never %

Don't know %

Fox

29

61

25

14

Grass snake

8

12

62

24

Great crested newt

1

6

65

30

Hedgehog

24

64

22

15

Mole

44

58

32

10

Slow worm

8

33

43

24

Stag beetle

4

16

43

41

Stoat

2

15

63

23

% change 2016-17

At least monthly %

Ever this year %

Never %

Don't know %

Fox

0

-2

-4

17

Grass snake

-38

-11

-6

25

Hedgehog

-2

-1

-7

15

Slow worm

-7

-6

-6

23

Stoat

-12

3

-10

44

3. The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch wildlife survey is a partnership between the RSPB, Amphibian and Reptile Trust, The Mammal Society and the People's Trust for Endangered Species. In excess of 24,000 people across Wales watched and counted 455,606 birds in January during the 2017 Big Garden Birdwatch.

4. According to RSPB's Connecting with Nature report only one chid in every eight in Wales is connected to nature. The RSPB believes that connecting with nature should be a part of every child's life - to develop deeply-held feelings and attitudes towards wildlife and the world we all live in. The kind support of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the University of Essex made this research possible.

Tagged with: Country: Wales Topic: Getting involved