‘Halloween, Bonfire Night, and Christmas … it’s so easy to lose sight of our wildlife’

By Gabby Morris at

Walking around the West End on Saturday morning made me stop and think about wildlife.

Those of you that follow along on social media will have seen lovely photos of goldcrests in the monkey puzzle trees of the Botanic Gardens and tree creepers in Victoria Park.

These birds are out and about foraging. We are coming towards the end of natural food and they’re getting it while they can.

It wasn’t the birds that brought wildlife to mind though, it was a giant plastic pumpkin in the Botanic Gardens as part of the GlasGlow setup.

Goldcrest

Goldcrest has been a rare visitor to the West End this autumn

As nature starts to wind down, our season starts to speed up. We have Halloween, Bonfire Night and then on to Christmas, everything becomes a little faster paced and we can lose sight of the important things.

At this time of year, as the dark nights draw in and the festivities begin, it can be easy to close the door and forget what is going on outside.

Like the goldcrests, many of whom have migrated from other parts of Europe, getting their feed before the natural food runs out, we all start to think about consuming.

One of the things that we waste at this time of year is pumpkins. I read a statistic the other day, 18,000 tonnes of pumpkin get thrown in the bin.

Astonishing

That’s the equivalent of 360 million portions of pumpkin pie. An astonishing amount, all in the name of pumpkin carving!

When you start to consider how much land, energy and labour it might take to grow this many pumpkins, which are never eaten, it becomes quite over-whelming.

At least GlasGLOW are passing their old pumpkins on to Changeworks Recycling who break the food down for renewable energy and use it as power for Glasgow.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t enjoy ourselves, but we should also consider what happens to this waste once the party is over. There are ways we can offset this consumption and help wildlife.

A pumpkin

Pumpkin are a great source of food for wildlife

Food for lots of animals

Once you’ve finished with your pumpkin carving, putting them outside for wildlife is great way to get them used up.

Birds, squirrels, mice and even late insects will use the natural sugars which are scarce at this time of year.

If you don’t have a garden to put it out in, take it to one of our local parks. There are lots of wildlife at Kelvingrove Park, Victoria Park and even the Botanic Gardens that will flourish from this extra food injection. I’d love to see pumpkins piled up in green spaces all over the West End.

It’s not just wildlife on top of the soil that can benefit from pumpkins. Worms in compost will love having pumpkins added to it. You can do this by chopping them up into chunks and putting them into your composting bin.

If you want to eat your pumpkin, or you want to donate it, there is a great website with some Scotland based hubs and ideas https://www.hubbub.org.uk.

Hedgehog

Hedgehog’s need our protection

Check your Bonfires

If you’re planning a bonfire this weekend, you can help wildlife by checking under your pile or build it on the day.

Hedgehogs at this time of year are going into hibernation mode, they are looking for a cosy place to sleep off the winter months. Leaves, sticks, piles of bonfire material are the perfect place to hibernate.

If a large bonfire must be built in advance, protect it whilst building by putting some chicken wire, at least one-metre-high, all the way around the bottom.

This should be held in place with stakes and the wire should slope outwards at an angle to make it difficult to climb, as hedgehogs are good climbers! The best way to protect wildlife is to attend a local bonfire display.

I’d love to know if you decide to head out and offer up your pumpkins to the West End’s wildlife. Don’t forget to tweet us and use the hashtag #wildaboutthewestend

* Gabby Morris lives in the West End of Glasgow, with her wife. She is the cofounder of Garden Crowd a social enterprise supporting urban birds and is a product design student at the GSA.

You can find out more at www.gardencrowd.co.uk or Instagram: @gabbyamorris