Winter can be a tough time for our wildlife with many species hibernating to survive the harsher elements, but it is a great time of year to spot the species that thrive in the colder months. So, wrap up warm and head into the Forest to see what you can find.
With many flying in from colder countries to spend the winter here, you’ll see lots more wildfowl on rivers, lakes and ponds at this time of year. Stroll along the River Avon and you’ll see ducks, geese and swans. Look out for Bewick and Whooper swans which are winter visitors.
Look out for winter migrants such as redwings and fieldfares flying across our land and darting in and out of our hedges. They often travel together in flocks and feed on berries in fields and hedgerows. Redwings are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List and are currently categorised as ‘near threatened’ due to their decreasing numbers. The mosaic of habitats in the Forest are providing important places for them to thrive.
Some animals can be hard to spot as they are shy or mostly come out at night, but by using your detective skills you can find evidence that they are around. Keep your eyes peeled for tracks, trails and signs of mammals when out walking. It is easier to see animal footprints in the muddy ground or after snowfall, making the colder months great for wildlife tracking. You could download the Woodland Trust’s animal track ID to help you.
The berries in the hedgerows in the Forest provide a valuable food source for birds and small mammals in the winter. When the ground is too frozen to hunt for worms and there are few insects around, holly, hawthorn and mistletoe berries are vital for sustenance. Placing importance on hedgerows when designing the Forest means that there is a food source to help our wildlife during the winter months.
Share your photos
Frosty mornings and bright sunny days make for fantastic photo opportunities at this time of year. Please tag us in any pictures that you share on social media – we’d love to see them! Use @The_Hoef and @heartofenglandforest.