Fall in love with wildlife this Valentine’s Day

Find your perfect partner in nature! Capture the moment when you spot a deer for the first time, experience woodland flowers emerging, attract new birds to your garden or find a special view to savour. Show off your new love – take a #WinterSelfie to share your passions.

What to spot in February? 

Frosty February days are surprisingly good for birdwatching as birds are very active, working hard to find food in wintry conditions. This time of year birds can go hungry as berry supplies are depleted yet there are few insects around.  Frozen ground means birds like thrushes and robins struggle to peck out the earthworms and other bugs they feed on. So it’s an important time to keep feeding your garden birds a high energy seed mix. Attract different birds by adding new food treats such as suet for long-tailed tits or niger seed for goldfinches.

With deciduous trees bare, this is a good time to take a woodland walk where you might see larger mammals including muntjac or roe deer. Watch out for a flash of white at the rear of an animal about 1m tall, this will be our native roe deer making a quick exit.

Handsome herons

grey-heron-copyright-neil-aldridge
Grey Heron Copyright Neil Aldridge

Elegant herons start to feel amorous in February. Herons are sociable birds and use established nesting areas known as heronries, returning year after year.  The male birds are first to arrive and start gathering nesting materials while defending their nest from other males. You can spot the nests easily while the trees are bare – look for a group of large nests high in the treetops, close to a lake or wetland.

Then watch for the elaborate courtship dance of the male bird as he tries to impress his mate! He stretches his neck out, pointing his beak to the sky then pulls it back in over his back. Once he’s enticed the female onto the nest there’s plenty of clapping their bills together and loud calls to cement their relationship.

Green shoots and golden glimmers

Snowdrops are flowering and by the end of February you may also spot lesser celandine. These pretty yellow flowers are a really useful source of early pollen for queen bees emerging to forage.

lesser-celandine-copyright-darin-smith
Lesser Celandine Copyright Darin Smith

Golden yellow hazel catkins unfurl in February, appearing in clusters on bare stems before the leaves emerge. Hazel has a great fan in the dormouse as it provides them with food through the year. In spring-time hazel leaves are feasted on by caterpillars which dormice then feed upon. The autumn nuts are ideal for helping dormice fatten up for winter hibernation.

Under your feet

This is the month baby badger cubs are born, but they stay cosily tucked up underground with eyes unopened until they are five weeks old. They stay in the nesting chamber of the sett until around six to seven weeks then venture out to explore the sett tunnels, peeking out of the entrance at around eight weeks old. By nine to ten weeks they will take their first steps out in the great big world.

#staywild  #winterselfie

Louise Barrack, Communications Officer

 

 

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