What to look for in the woods: February

A Stirring of Spring!

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Nature is starting to come alive again. There is a lot to see in February; the newly emerging plants such as the sweet violet that are great in a salad and the understated flowers of plants that do not need insects to pollinate, like that of the Alder and Hazel trees. The male catkins of the Hazel tree are first noticeable. If you examine a little closer you will also observe the red/purple flower that can be found just below the catkin on the same branch.

When around water courses such as lakes and reservoirs, two species of birds are worth looking out for at this time of year. The Herons breeding season started weeks ago but you will notice that they still keep adding to their nests. Herons keep their same nests each year and you may find places known as heronries that have multiple nesting sites. Another bird is the Great Crested Grebe. Their famous courtship routine is a complicated choreography of five stages, with the grand finale of both birds facing each other as they raise their bodies out of the water with beaks full of weed. Whilst in the woods you may sense the stirring under the ground of a badger sett. Their young have been born and you should be able to see many signs of the adult's activity. Old bedding may be seen at the opening of the entrance ways, which has been replaced by new vegetation.  Five toed tracks will be apparent along their well trod path ways and the occasional hair can be found snagged on brambles and wire fences.

Published on 1st Feb 2017

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