When to Watch Wildlife

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PMcS 2006



Here are some things that you might like to do to whilst the grown-ups are being boring this winter.  However you may need a grown-up to help, join in the fun or give you permission.  Please always be careful whilst you're having fun!
Visit the swans at a WWT reserve:  The swans (whooper and bewick) that visit during the winter are a wonderful spectacle. 
These birds have spent the summer in the Arctic and come to Britain with their new families.  The WWT reserves put down grain to feed the swans and lots of other wildfowl, such as ducks.  This is a great day out.

Feed the garden birds and draw what you see
: You can easily attract all sorts of birds to your garden by feeding them and putting out a dish of water.  Ideally birds should be fed specialised food, supplied by pet shops or supermarkets, such as sunflower seeds, peanuts (both provided in hanging feeders) or seeds scattered across the ground or on a bird table.

Go to the RSPB website to find out how to make your own bird feeder.

It may take a few days for the birds to find the food but this will provide hours of fun, as you get to identify what comes into your garden.  Once you start feeding birds you should keep it up until spring as they may become dependant on your kindness. You may find squirrels coming to help themselves, but remember to try to keep the cat away!

4 Port Plastic Seed Feeder (Challenger 2)

Finches on a feeder


[Trees In Britain 06]

fir cone


Make a fir cone weather vane
: Did you know that the humble fir cone from pine trees will open and close to reflect the weather outside.  All you have to do is find one (try your local park) and place it on a windowsill away from a radiator.  If you have a porch where the temperature is more like the outside it will work better.  When the temperature is high the cone will open.

While you are searching for cones, look at the different bark of other trees>  If you are lucky enough to have a digital camera, how about photographing bark close up and making a collage of the different types.  To identity the tree you may need to look at the leaves on the ground below and look these up in a book.

Look out for grey squirrels whilst you are in the park.


Grow a conker tree:
You should still be able to find some conkers below horse chestnut trees during Autumn and early winter.  Place a conker in a flower pot filled with soil and water to make the soil damp.  Place it in a warm sunny position and wait. A shoot should emerge after a few months, so be patient.  You could try the same thing with an acorn or two.
[Trees In Britain 16]

horse chestnut tree ("conker")


Go snail and slug hunting at night in the garden
:  You should be able to see these slimy creatures even in winter.  Take a torch out on warmer nights and look for trails.  Slug trails are continuous, whilst snail trails are broken up into short sections.

Here are some great web sites for budding nature lovers:



All images and text are copyright PMcS 2006