With financial support from the Isle of Wight Council we have built a cycle path through Afton North Marsh. This should improve access all year round, but please remember it is a marsh so there will be times when the path is wet.

Sitting in your garden and watching the birds feed has got to be one of life’s great pleasures, but with the cost of birdfeed increasing, and the uncertainty as to what ‘fillers’ and preservatives might have been added, buying the food can be a costly addition to the monthly budget.

Here at Gift to Nature, we like to find a way around a problem, and we believe the solution here is to simply make your own. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a creative expert to make this one. A bit of time and some easy household ingredients will give you everything you need. Also with half-term approaching, this is another cost-effective idea to carry out with the kids (and less messy than baking) win, win.


What you need?


  • Seed mix (sunflower, safflower, golden millet or flax)
  • Suet
  • Dried Fruit
  • Grated cheese (mild cheddar or similar)
  • Peanuts


  • Yoghurt pots (or similar)
  • String
  • Bowl
  • Scissors

4 Simple Steps

Cute a hole in the bottom of your yoghurt pot. Put the string through the pot (allowing enough extra to tie to your tree or pole etc.)

Warm suet up to room temperature, cut it up into small pieces and put it in to the bowl. Using your hands (it gets messy!), mix with all the other ingredients. Keep squeezing and moulding the until the fat melts enough to hold the mixture all together.

Once it is holding, spoon the mixture into your yogurt pot(s) and pop them into the fridge for at least a few hours (preferably overnight).

Now all that is left to do is tie your little pots to the tree and watch the birds feed, here on the Island you can expect to see:

  • Blue Tit
  • Robin
  • Chaffinch
  • Great Tit
  • Long-tailed Tit
  • Sparrow
  • And more…

Feel free to get in touch if you have any other questions or interesting sightings and don’t forget to recycle your pots or indeed use them again.

Email: daisy.steinberg@https://www.gifttonature.org.uk

For all of those that missed our planting and pruning event, here are some of our top apple tree pruning tips:

Aim for an open goblet shaped crown – begin the job with an end in mind.

Don’t leave little stubs. When you’re making cuts make sure they’re clean and flush to the larger branch they grow from. The exception is heading back cuts (see below).

Bear in mind that horizontal branches bear more fruit than vertical branches.

If your tree has been really neglected, don’t do all the work in one season. You could do more harm than good and cause rampant regrowth. Spread the work out over 2 or 3 winters.

Remove large branches by cutting them off in sections to avoid injuring yourself.

Dwarf trees don’t need too much pruning – just a light touch.

As ever, March was a busy month for us- the weather certainly didn’t help our cause. Some days were sunny whilst others were filled with snow, sleet and rain. In spite of the good old English weather, progress has been made across many of our sites, March’s highlights:

Brading Down 

Working with J.R Fencing we installed two new kissing gates and an access gate for our vehicles on. One of the kissing gates is for disabled access from the ice cream van car park. This means there are now more points from which to access the lovely walks on the Down as well as the new picnic area which is adjacent to the ice cream van car park. Works to the car park surfaces will shortly be underway and there are now new information boards in place explaining the history, landscape and wildlife of the site. We have also been restoring benches in the area, getting them picnic ready. Finally we fitted new signage for the nature reserve and heard our first Skylark of the season, Yay.

Pig Leg Lane

We worked on our Allen Scythe (trusted piece of ranger machinery) mechanics to get it running well and took it out to cut some long grass and brambles beside one of the paths. The machine is great for cutting rough grassland and then we rake up the waste to prevent mulching over new growth beneath. This also stops nutrients returning to the soil which benefits wildflowers over vigorous grasses and nettles.

Bonchurch Landslip

Sadly an Ash Tree gave up the ghost and fell over a path in Bonchurch Landslip, we had to cut it into pieces to remove efficiently. Do drop us a line if you ever notice something similar at one of our sites. We do our best to get around as best we can, but it can be tricky to check on all 29 each week.

Pan Mill Meadows

Lots of tidying up around the path that runs down the side of the Matalan bridge and within eye shot of M&S. This is a well-used route and was overgrown with brambles and privet which during the summer grows out and has to be constantly cut. We had a good prune along there.

Hunnyhill School Presentation

We’ve been down to Hunnyhill School to chat to them about the life, history, behaviour and physical characteristics of our beloved red squirrels and why they are so important to the Island. The children were very enthusiastic and came up with some fantastic ideas of how to record and protect the squirrels.

We will be returning to the  classroom for another visit and we will be taking the class on an adventurous walk to Parkhurst Forest to the red squirrel hide.

Here at Gift to Nature HQ we’re always looking for ways to improve and this month we thought we would share a mindfulness technique that will get you walking in the great outdoors and enjoying all the beauty our little Island has to offer.

If you’re even a smidgen into self-care, you’ll already be au fait with mindfulness and all the wondrous health benefits related to it. For those who don’t know, put simply, mindfulness is the art of practicing a mental state that focuses awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting the feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations that pass you by. Read more