What is around in December

Yes, it is going to be tempting to stay indoors with either the central heating on or a fire lit and the curtains drawn early to close out the depressing dark days, but this is a good time to get out into the countryside as wildlife is often easier to approach or see this time of year!

Why not consider a walk in the countryside by the coast or local woods over the Christmas period.

So what to look or listen for this Month.

  • Now is the time when Red foxes will make their presence known.  December and January are when they become more visible and more audible.
  • Listen and look out for Tawny Owls who are pairing up and establishing their territories this time of year.
  • Many mammals are very shy and not often seen but in the winter months when food is harder to find and the ground cover is less you may just be lucky enough  to catch sight of Stoats, Mice and Voles etc. searching for food .
  • Look for last spring’s bird nests in leafless hedges and trees.
  • Wildfowl ( ducks and geese) flock in wetlands and estuaries.
  • Look for evergreens such as holly in the countryside or hedgerows, with its rosy berries (only on the females plants) and ivy both of which  are used in wreaths, Holly berries form an important food source for many birds and small mammals, so it is important to leave them some as well.
  • Remember to feed the garden birds and also give them a fresh  supply water too, as the weather can be extremely harsh from this month onwards. Enjoy what birds you get on your bird table and watch the acrobatic tit’s and finches on your seeds and nuts. There are still lots of flocks of Redwings, Fieldfares and if you are luck Waxwings.
  • If we are unlucky we will get snow and maybe a White Christmas, but a plus point is that you can see animal and bird tracks in it.
  • The robin, so often associated with the festive season, can be particularly tame during the colder months. These are one of the few birds that can be heard singing during winter, as both the males and females maintain territories for feeding during this period, Around Christmas-time robins begin exploring other robins’ territories looking for a mate.  They then pair up by mid-January and females stop singing.
  • Look out for Mistletoe on trees. There are several bunches around the parish , ( see article on Mistletoe for further information.)
  • Teasel stems stand in clusters on road verges and their seed heads provide a favourite source of food for goldfinches, Only small birds such as these, with slim and pointed beaks, can reach the seeds within the teasel head.
  • It is worth looking around some uncultivated fields for scented Mayweed and Shepherd’s Purse, normally overlooked; also the diminutive scarlet pimpernel whose red flowers will only open during the bright mornings.
  • Look out for Green Woodpeckers on the uncultivated field, just after the sharp bend as you leave the village heading towards Wymondham.
  • Look in the hedgerows and you may see old man’s beard climbing between the branches, with its fluffy seed heads.
  • Although this is not the traditional time associated with Fungi some of the most brightest colours to be seen this month are to be found nestling in the mouldering litter of woods and under hedgerows. Some are Scarlet Elf Cups, Dead Man’s Fingers, Jew’s ear (or Jelly ear) fungus can be found growing on rotting elder branches .Also wood blewit continue to thrive!

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