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Be nice to wildlife this winter

Hold your nerve and resist the urge to tidy up borders until the beginning of March.  Dead stems, seedheads and leaves are are useful as food and hiding places.

A bird bath can be a vital source of drinking water for birds during the winter. Ensure that yours is topped up, and kept free of ice.

Hang bird feeders if you have not had them out already through previous seasons; remember to wash them regularly.

There is a huge range of bird foods available on the market, but household scraps and fallen fruit from the garden will do just as well. The greater the variety of food that you supply, the greater variety of birds you are likely to see in your garden.

Clear out bird nesting boxes if you haven't done so already - birds will soon be looking for winter roosts in which to keep warm. Old nesting material can harbour parasites, which will be of harm to new residents.

Corrugated iron or plastic laid on the soil can provide warm tunnels for small reptiles, amphibians and mammals to hibernate in. Once it becomes covered with moss, algae, weeds and earth, even metal retains heat through the winter, providing a warm and secure hiding place.

Put out log and twig piles made from old prunings and felled trees. These provide valuable shelter for wildlife.

Hedgehogs can emerge from hibernation for a quick food foray during mild spells, before returning to their hiding place when temperatures drop back near freezing. Hedgehog and badger food is now available for sale. It is not a good idea to feed hedgehogs with bread and milk, as this is not their natural diet. Dog food is an alternative.