Springwatch: Your questions answered
All of us here at Springwatch and Unsprung would like to say a big thank you for the amazing response we've had to the shows so far. You've sent hundreds of your wildlife questions in already. In fact we've had so many that much as we'd like to it would be impossible for us to solve all your mysteries. However we took some time out this weekend to answer some of the most common.
Wasp © DerekBez
This is definitely a wasp. It can though be quite difficult to tell the difference between bees and wasps because they share so many characteristics. Wasps in general are thinner with smoother bodies and bees tend to be rounder. And more often than not if it's hairy on its abdomen and legs then it's a bee. But the only way to really get to grips with the differences is through experience. Get yourself a good book or insect ID guide and get out there and practise.
The wasp in DerekBez's picture is stripping the wood. Mermaidmad Jennifer Leather wanted to know why a wasp in her garden was doing this too. The reason is that it's chewing the wood fibres up to form a pulp to use in building its nest. Like this one by Andrew Joseph from earlier this year.
Michael Siveter wants to know if his nest-building wren is too late to have eggs. According to our friends at the BTO the core breeding season for wrens runs right through from mid-April to the beginning of August with occasional nest encounters for about a month either side. So congratulations Michael, you should have chicks soon! Incubation lasts around two weeks and the hatchlings will fledge just over two weeks after that.
A few people have been asking about how they can stop their cats bringing in dead birds and mice or attacking fledglings. Do1999 is wondering if she should let her new kitten out at all, and Crunchy is very concerned for the fledglings in their area due to the high numbers of feline hunters.
If you have similar worries, look at this guide to helping cats to be wildlife-friendly. There's advice for bird lovers to help make your feeders and nest boxes safer for your feathery friends. And for cat owners there are some simple steps you can try to help birds and mice hear your cat coming.
Barry Smitherman runs a wildlife hospital in north London and he's concerned about the arrival of lots of healthy fledglings that ill-advised members of the public are bringing in. Please please read our guide on what to do if you find young animals, because more often than not they are perfectly healthy and awaiting the arrival of nearby parents.
Some of you have asked about relocating nests. Dorothy wanted to know if she should attempt to move on her nest-building swifts as they have chosen a potentially dangerous nesting site. All wild birds nests are protected by law so it is an offence to damage or destroy a nest. If you have concerns about nesting sites you could try to provide good nesting alternatives for the birds in your garden.
On the subject of nest building, Nick Rolfe asked what would be the best size of hole for a redstart nestbox. According to the BTO Nestbox Guide redstarts only need a small hole. Check out the RSPB's advice to making a nestbox.
Many of you are asking if there are unusually high or low numbers of a certain species this year. Swallowgirl is wondering if there's a reason that she is seeing loads of cuckoo spit, Sparrowfriend has noticed a lack of the usual mallard ducklings in their area, and Lindamarylou is wondering if there is a decline in wrens across the country.
If you've noticed significant changes in the bird, bug or mammal populations in your area, it could simply be that they have found elsewhere to nest or forage this year. The best thing to do to find out what's happening is to get involved with nationwide surveys such as the Springwatch Survey, and surveys run by the RSPB, the People's Trust for Endangered Species and Buglife. Be sure to check back on their websites for the results. The RSPB's bird garden birdwatch results are in for 2011 and you can download their county by county results here.
Please keep those wildlife questions coming on the Unsprung blog post.