In addition to the basic gardening tools needed when working in the garden, a wildlife gardener needs additional items if they want to get the most out of observing the species that live in their garden or will come to visit. This is true for both adults and children but, in providing equipment for children, they’ll gain a greater sense of understanding their wildlife garden and it will enhance their enjoyment.
When children are very young, it’s appropriate that any ‘tools’ a parent gives them in order that they can ‘help out’ in the garden are of the plastic toy variety. They’ll be light to hold, safe to use and are really just to give a young child a feel of what gardening is all about.
However, if this has whetted their appetite as they get a bit older, there are actual proper gardening tools which you can buy which are just like the real thing but are smaller in size and weight and specifically designed for children.
Whether you choose to invest in a set of kids’ gardening tools or allow your kids to use adult-sized tools as they get older, it’s important you educate them about the possible dangers of working with tools, particularly sharp and pointed instruments and, if there are certain tools you think are too dangerous for your child to use, you need to clearly spell out the dangers and the fact that they are forbidden to use them.
However, with wildlife gardening, the chances are that your child is going to be far more interested in the wildlife than the actual gardening and ‘graft’ element itself. There is plenty of additional equipment you can buy to help your child’s wildlife gardening ‘experience’ a more enjoyable one. Here are some useful items of equipment you might consider.
If your child has developed an interest in plants and/or insects, they’ll find a magnifying glass invaluable for enabling them to distinguish and differentiate between the species and, in the case of insects, for observing behaviour more closely.
If your child is fascinated with biology, a microscope will enable them to get to understand the biological make-up of insects, small birds and small mammals far better should they come across any dead species in the garden.
Most wildlife and birds, in particular, will scurry away long before you’ve had a chance to look at them in more detail if they can sense the presence of humans so a pair of binoculars is crucial if you want to observe the behaviour of most forms of wildlife which will be active in the garden. And, if you want to extend your nature watch into the night (and remember, some creatures are nocturnal), you should invest in pair of night-vision binoculars which can offer you the chance of viewing even more dramatic developments.
A small tape recorder such as a dictaphone can be very useful for recording the sound of birdsong. There are plenty of websites which feature the different bird calls of hundreds of species and, by being able to compare these to the sounds you’ve captured on your own tape (or some other kind of recording device), it makes it easier to identify species of birds you’re not familiar with.
Wildlife observation can be small or large in scope and, whilst this article tends to focus on the basics in terms of equipment, technology has even advanced into this area and, as they get older, they’ll possibly want to use infrared trail monitors, bat detectors, GPS collars for tracking purposes and far more besides.
And, whilst some ‘purists’ will stand by their belief that a wildlife garden is simply about observing nature ‘naturally’, there’s no doubt that additional equipment can make it more pleasurable and even more informative and educational.