Edited January entries by Steve Hooper-Lawrie


Birds and Flora in Winter

Cold snaps should not have too detrimental an effect on the local wildlife. It would have weeded out some of the sick and weak, but could also affect species that wake up periodically during their hibernation to visit their food stores before going back to sleep.

Many birds start sporting their breeding plumage and you’ll notice the intensity of their feather colour improving as they get ready to attract a mate as the spring comes round.

The image left shows a wren

Great Tits also start to pair and a male will scold you if you wander into its territory.

Rooks can be seen practicing their aerial courting display as they are one of the first birds to nest.


Robin snow

Birds such as the Collard Dove will start to physically defend territories. Many birds start sporting their breeding plumage and you’ll notice the intensity of their feather colour improving as they get ready to attract a mate as the spring comes round.

Male and Female Robins will start to tolerate each other instead of fighting over individual territories.
A male robin stands proud in the image right.

Among the flora the Snowdrop and the Gorse will be one of the first to flower while the Hazel will be displaying its green male catkins and tiny red female flowers by the end of January.

As the temperature begins to slowly increase, Snowdrops and Daffodils will cautiously poke their heads through the soil and if it stays relatively warm the first flowers of the year will emerge . This  happens at an opportune moment  as  over-wintering female bumblebees will be awakening from their hibernation and once on the wing will be looking to top up their energy . They will also be searching for a place to make their home and raise this years young. All the males will have died off when the previous years cold weather struck.

Standing in the car park, with the tide at the right state as it pushes the waders in towards the shore you will probably hear the bubbling call of the Curlew. Make the most of it as they will soon be off to their summer breeding grounds on the high moors. Other winter migrants will start to depart soon as the temperature slowly rises.

Anyone living near a Rookery  can’t but help notice the increase in activity as all members of the Corvidae family which include Rooks, Crows and Jays start to pair off ready to breed and will be moving as a pair within the large flocks commonly seen at this time.

Now is a good time to spot birds like the Yellowhammer and Brambling which are best seen around arable farmland. Both species are in decline as farmers leave less spilt grain on the fields during harvest. Robins are busy defending their territory and mates and Dunnocks (Hedge Accentor) are lot more visible as they set up their territories and attract mates by flashing the underside of their wings.

Dunnock TransparentPheasant
Dunnock transCock Pheasant

In the Old Oak in the back corner the Greater Spotted Woodpecker will be heard drumming which for me is one of the most evocative sounds of late winter/early spring.
All the wildfowl that stay with us will start to acquire their breeding plumage and start their breeding displays. The Mallards are one of the first and as well as there being aggression between the males the act of breeding can and often does look more like a gang rape of the poor female as she is held by the scruff of the neck by the male and quite often held underwater for what seems an inordinate amount of time only to surface and have the whole thing happen again.

swan asleep
Sleeping Swan

The male Swan who’s territory is the main bit of the lake closest to the car park has paired off and is aggressively defending his patch.

The local squirrel population will also start mating in January which can lead to some pretty aggressive behaviour as mates and territory are fought for and boundaries established.

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