The nocturnal animals that visit Cheshire gardens
- Credit: Terry Whittaker/2020VISION
Rachel Bradshaw from Cheshire Wildlife Trust examines some of the nocturnal visitors who are busy while we sleep
As day turns to night and we head home after a long day in the office, we settle in our comfy clothes and prepare for the next day. But the day is just beginning for some of our wildlife.
We settle for alarms or maybe even the beauty of sunrise, but for a whole group of nocturnal animals, the moonlit sky is their wake-up call. We're used to looking out of our windows during the day and seeing birds and mammals going about their daily routines, just like we do. But the routine of a nocturnal animal is just the same, except their presence is much more undercover.
If you were able to see in the dark, you would uncover a whole new world in your back garden you probably never knew about.
Although sadly on the decline in the UK, the iconic hedgehog was and still is in some places, a favourite garden visitor. After hibernating through the long winter months, hedgehogs will enjoy the worms and insects they uncover in the undergrowth of your garden. That's why it's so important that we create wild spots and easy access points so they can roam freely around neighbourhoods and keep coming back for more juicy bugs.
One of the creatures which is easiest to spot as they busy themselves at night is the glow-worm. These creatures embrace the darkness by lighting up as they attempt to attract a mate, but despite their name, glow worms are actually beetles with a bioluminescent section on their back.
If you stand outside just as the light starts to fade, be sure to look up to the sky and you'll begin to see bats dancing through the trees catching their breakfast. The most common bat in Britain is the pipistrelle bat, weighing around five grams (same as a 20p piece!). A single pipistrelle can eat 3,000 tiny insects in just one night.
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It's incredible to know that a whole world emerges from the hedgerows or the trees once the sun sets on our days. It's not just small mammals that wake when darkness calls - we also welcome much larger mammals such as the badger and the fox. They have adapted quite well in our ever-changing landscape, with sightings recorded in urban areas more than ever before. With developments closing in on our landscape, they sometimes have no choice but to head to towns and cities to find their next meal.
Possibly the most famous nocturnal creature is the owl, but not all owls come out at night. Some like to hunt during the daytime such as the barn owl, short eared owl and the little owl. We're not entirely sure why this might be, but we think it could be weather related, if the conditions the night before weren't great for hunting.
As the milder summer nights start to arrive, I recommend you plan an evening with family or friends, grab a hot drink and some snacks and take a seat in your back garden for an hour and witness the beauty of a whole new world waking up.
But if you don't fancy sitting out at night waiting for wildlife, technology has made it possible to see the night-time visitors to your own back gardens. Remote camera traps, or trail cameras as they're also known, can now automatically start recording when they sense movement. This allows us to see what's going on in specific areas of the garden without disturbing or scaring the animals as they go about their business. We also use them at Cheshire Wildlife Trust to monitor animals and birds so we can work with landowners and others to protect them and provide them with the habitats and landscapes they need to thrive.