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How to watch wildlife in your garden

How to watch wildlife in your garden


We picked the brains of James Lowen, wildlife photographer and author of 52 Wildlife Weekends: A year of British wildlife-watching breaks, and asked for tips on how to watch wildlife in our own back gardens.

How to watch wildlife: 

What is your garden like?

We have a small urban garden, shrouded in mature flowering shrubs, with year-long colour, peaking in May.


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How can we draw wildlife into our gardens?

Do whatever you can to give nature a home. Rather than tidy up, allow flowers to die back naturally, so birds can eat the seeds. Leave piles of leaves and fallen fruit. The smallest pond enables birds to bathe and frogs to rehydrate. Include a variety of plants to provide year-round food resources.

How can gardeners spot wildlife without disturbing it?

Watch birds and mammals from inside the house, carefully opening a window should you wish to photograph them. Watch your step, and scan ahead of you for ‘mini-beasts’ feeding or resting on leaves and flowers, and approach slowly, avoiding your shadow falling across your target.

From your guide, which is your favourite destination to seek wildlife?

A tough question. The guide provided an opportunity to write about so many locations that I love! On balance, the big skies of north Norfolk just pip the beach-side of Machair in the Outer Hebrides, and the heathland of Dorset’s Isle of Purbeck.

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Which plant do you love the most from your garden?

From a bumblebee’s perspective, it’s the purple-flowered, nectar-rich hebe shrubs.


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Lastly, are you a tea or coffee drinker?

As I lived for several years in Argentina, I’m a fan of yerba mate, a local leaf tea made from Ilex paraguariensis, a relative of the holly, and drunk from a cow horn gourd.