A Wild Winter’s Tale

It seems that no two consecutive days have been the same this winter; one day torrential rain, the next gale force winds, thick fog, heavy falls of snow, then hard frost and bright sunshine. Whilst the erratic weather makes planning more difficult for humans, it can make the difference between life and death for wildlife. Larger animals may be able to build up sufficient fat reserves to see them through lean times, but small mammals and birds have to eat regularly just to survive. This is when feeding the birds in your garden can make a real difference to them and bring enjoyment to yourself. You can also help with a piece of citizen science by taking part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch on 27th – 29th January. Small mammals also deserve a bit of help and the Bank Voles that live in my garden on the League’s Baronsdown sanctuary seem to appreciate the apple cores I give them.

One of the positive benefits of a covering of snow is it gives the opportunity to see what animals have been about that might otherwise escape unnoticed. In the countryside around Baronsdown foxes are heavily persecuted by gamekeepers and hunts and so they do their best to avoid contact with humans. It was therefore quite reassuring to find fox tracks in the snow snaking around in various places on the sanctuary, especially as foxes have lately evaded attempts to capture them on camera. Remote cameras on-site did capture images of a buzzard and robin together, a large, very fluffy and presumably feral domestic cat and, of course, Red Deer.

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