Hedgehogs and squirrels among garden wildlife

The RSPB is encouraging people in Northumberland to get out and uncover the secrets of their gardens and outdoor spaces after the second round of its Big Garden Birdwatch highlighted the importance of gardens to threatened wildlife.

Many of the people who looked out for birds during a particular weekend also supplied information about the other garden animals they saw throughout the year.

In Northumberland, 77 per cent of participants reported seeing a hedgehog in their garden at some point in the year. A total of 24 per cent saw a grey squirrel in their garden at least at least once a month, but 12 per cent reported seeing a red squirrel on a monthly basis.

For the first time, Big Garden Birdwatchers were asked to keep an eye out for slow worms and grass snakes slithering around their gardens. More than half of those responding from Northumberland said they have never seen either species.

Daniel Hayhow, RSPB conservation scientist, said: “Once again, the survey has highlighted how important our gardens are for an amazing variety of wildlife.

“As gardens have become tidier, reptile homes have been lost, leaving a shortage of suitable habitats in which to live and breed.”