10 Things to spot on a February nature walk
10 Things to spot on a February nature walk
Hello and welcome to My Nature Nook! In today’s tutorial, we are going to look at 10 things you can spot on your February nature walks.
But, I would first like to start by saying a GREAT BIG THANK YOU to everyone who signed up to my newsletter last month. In the end, I not only reached, but completely surpassed 100 subscribers, which is amazing and something I never thought possible. The results of the contest comes out later this month, so I’ll let you know how it goes.
But now, I hope you are all doing well and ready to dive in to some great February nature walks. Yes? Then let’s get started! February is a great cross-over month, providing both winter and spring features for us to spot and today, we are going to look at 10 things you can spot on a February nature walk.
The main things to spot this February, are:
- Trees – bark, buds, twigs and catkins
- Plants – young plants and early bulbs
- Birds – dawn and dusk chorus
Let’s meet and learn about some of them in more detail.
Bark, buds and twigs
While the trees are still mostly bare, it is a good time to notice the little details of their bark, twigs and buds. Observe their structures, their colours, their textures… How knobbly are they? How slender? How stubby? Are they smooth or rough? Hairy or sticky? Are they covered in lichens or draped with moss? How many varieties can you see? Can you identify the leafless trees by their appearance?
Resource: Tree buds field guide
1. Ash buds
Ash buds can be easily identified by looking for upward arching, knobbly twigs of ash. They are also our main black coloured tree bud. See how they are chubby and round, and grow in pairs, spiralling around the twigs.
2. Sycamore buds
Sycamore buds are the next easiest to identify. Especially when the tree is still young and shrubby, so it’s buds are readily accessible. They are a nice green colour with little black tips, which like ash, grow in opposite pairs. Because the leaf scales are so clear, I have seen them described as a bishop’s mitre.
3. Hazel catkins
Hazel catkins are probably one of the easiest and most common catkins to look out for. The young catkins are short, green and stubby. They also tend to grow in pairs. As the mature, the catkins lengthen, open, and turn yellow. Their texture also changes and they become soft and flexible. Other common catkins, include birch and alder.
Young plants and early bulbs
Even though many parts of the country are under snow, you can keep an eye open for young plants and spring bulbs. If you pay attention, you will soon spot them, pushing up through the frosty earth. A few young plants to spot are cuckoo’s pint, butter burr and wild violets. Daffodils, crocus and snowdrops are also making an appearance now – and you might notice the odd surprise too. (We found a pair of dwarf irises flowering just up the road from us this week!)
Resource: Wild flowers field guide
4. Celandine leaves
Celandine is one of the earliest spring flowers to arrive, brightening up hedgerows with their shiny yellow flowers. Look out for their horse-hoof shaped leaves (easy to confuse with violet). Sometimes, you can also see a paler band, tracing the outline and running around the inside of the leaf.
5. Cuckoo’s pint leaves
Cuckoo’s pint is an interesting and distinctly exotic-looking plant, with a a flower that looks like a wrapped up sail, and a single spike laden with spirals of red, green and orange berries the the autumn for now, though, look out for their shiny, arrow-head shaped leaves.
6. Early bulbs
There are all sorts of spring bulbs that can be found pushing up through the earth (or snow). Of these, outside of parks and planted areas, the most common are daffodils, snowdrops and crocuses. In planted-up areas, you might spot hyacinths, grape hyacinths and irises. While, in damp, boggy areas, you can watch out for yellow flag.
As the days lengthen, the birds also wake up early and continue their songs until late into the night (at least, our local blackbird does). If you look and listen carefully, you can spot a host of birds starting off the dawn and dusk chorus and proclaiming their territory through the tree branches. Listen out for blackbirds, starlings and robins.
Resource: Common birds field guide
7. Blue tit
Blue tits can be seen flitting around in pairs or small groups and visiting garden bird feeders. You can also spot pairs of great tits and coal tits too. Listen for their sound of tsee, tsee, tsee!
Blackbirds are a common sight everywhere – both the black males and the dark brown females. Listen out for them singing in the early morning and evening. They sound like little opera singers. If you spot a movement darting around and ducking its head in the undergrowth, there is a good chance that will be a blackbird too.
Robins can often be heard before they are spotted, or else suddenly noticed right at eye level as you are walking by! If you hear the melody of a robin, listen carefully to see if you can hear another nearby. They often sing in rivalry to other birds.
These birds are very sociable and love hanging around in flocks – both large and small. If you see a group of dark, spotty birds in a tree, on top of rooftops or on the grass, especially if they are chitter-chattering and whooping away, they are sure to be starlings.
Now its your turn!
I hope you have enjoyed our February blog post. Are you ready to go out on a nature walk and see what you can find now? To help you out, I have even created a handy printable spotter sheet to take out on your walks with you. You can download it from here.
Have fun, and happy nature walking!