What to look for on a January nature walk

What to look for in Nature > What to look for on a January nature walk

Hello and welcome to My Nature Nook. In today’s tutorial, we are going to look at some of the things you might spot on your january nature walk. Are you ready? Let’s get started!

The main things to look out for in January, are:

  • Trees – Bark, buds, twigs, growth scars and catkins
  • Plants – Early spring bulbs and young plants – and winter flowers
  • Birds – Keep your ears open for bird calls and your eyes peeled for bird table visitors

Let’s have a look at some of them in more detail.

Bark, buds and catkins

While at first glance, it is easy to imagine that, being mid-winter, the trees are still bare, if you look closely you will find that actually, there is quite a bit to see.
bare twigs and branches


Examine the twigs and observe their length, width, colour and texture. Flex them between your fingers and see how stiff or how bendy they are. Run your fingers over their bark – is it smooth, rough or flaky?



Look at the twigs more closely. Are there any buds? What colour, size and shape are they? Where are they located? At the ends of the twig or all along its length? Are they in pairs or alternate? Are they sticky, scaly or hairy?


Growth rings and scars

Now really get your eyes into the twig and look for growth rings and scars. What colour are the scars? Are there any spots or markings inside? How far apart are the growth rings? Count them and guess the age of the twig.

identifying tree bark


Step back and observe the whole tree. Look at its bark. What colour is it? Or are there multiple colours? Is it smooth, rough, hairy, papery, scaly, cracked or fibrous? Is it the same texture and colour all the way up the tree?

mature hazel catkins


Keep your eyes open for catkins. While some trees still have immature catkins, some catkins are already lengthening and maturing. Feel their texture, appreciate their stiffness and observe their patterns and colours.

Spring bulbs, early plants and winter flowers

young cuckoo's pint leaves

Young plants

Although it is still winter, already some young plants are unfolding their leaves through the soil. One of the earliest plants are lords and ladies, or cuckoo’s pint, with their arrow-shaped leaves.

spring bulbs rising through soil

Spring bulbs

Along the verges and in the woods, early spring bulbs are rising up too. Notice the shape and size of the shooting bulbs and how dark or light green they are. Can you guess which flowers they might be?


Winter flowers

Lastly, don’t forget to look for winter flowers, such as snowdrops. These can be found nestling amongst the roots and leaf mold too.


Well, there we go! I hope you enjoyed these tips for what to look out for on a January nature walk? The main things are tree buds, twigs, catkins and bark and spring and winter plants (and birds).

  • Don’t forget to take your nature journal along and sketch your findings too.
  • Remember, if you need help identifying something, you can also take a look at my illustrated nature walk field guides.
  • Finally, if you enjoyed this tutorial and would love to receive updates about further tips and tutorials, please subscribe below.

Thank you for reading and see you soon, Leila x

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