Help the birds this winter

Winter is a tough time for Brits this year – with rising fuel and food bills and a lack of credit available, many will struggle to make ends meet.

But gardeners will know that winter isnt as tough on humans as it is for wildlife. While squirrels and mice tend to hibernate, birds often find winter the most difficult time of the year to survive.

Frosty and snow-covered ground means that many birds struggle to get their daily meal of earthworms and bugs.

This can lead to starvation and weakness that makes them more vulnerable to predators.

The Royal Horticultural Society recommends that gardeners who wish to care for nature put out a bird table and feeder – preferably somewhere that isnt easily accessible to cats.

The odd squirrel that hasnt retired for the winter can also be a problem, stealing food from bird feeders, but experts have told the Daily Mail that a good way to combat this is to mix the food with a touch of chilli.

This, they say, will repel any bushy-tailed squirrels but doesnt bother the birds.

RSPB wildlife adviser Lloyd Scott told the paper that "using chilli powder to deter squirrels is a cheap, easy and effective solution".

It is also important to prepare the garden for winter, moving any young and vulnerable plants into the greenhouse for the colder season.