Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Wildlife makes the most of the mild weather

The short days and long cold nights of Winter usually make this a time for wildlife to step down a gear but it seems the recent spell of mild weather has caused Spring to have sprung a little early this year.

Many plants which usually flower between late January to early February such as Lesser Celandine and Cowslips have been seen in bloom in our local Leigh Woods whereas Snowdrops, Crocuses and Daffodils have been seen elsewhere around the country. The mild weather seems to have made these plants think winter's over, making them bloom well ahead of schedule. The buds on trees such as Silver Birch and Oak are already bursting and Hazel Catkins have even been seen in some areas.

Daffodils (Photo: Hazel Philips)
Lesser Celandine
(Photo: Shirley Freeman)
Snowdrops (Photo: Anna Guthrie)

Although the vibrant trumpets of daffodils might be a welcome sight to brighten up our grey winter, it's not all good news. Winter is not over and there is still a risk of colder days to come. The wildlife can suffer if a late cold spell comes along, so lets hope for a mild February!

Photo: Richard Burkmar
This untimely mild weather can also be dangerous for small mammals. Sightings of hedgehogs out and about around indicate these as well as other small mammals may have woken early from hibernation, expecting the abundance of food that Spring provides. With not much food around for them to forage in these winter months, many of them could starve. If you see a hedgehog then it's great to give them a helping hand by leaving out some food - dog food and cat food would be happily gobbled up. Visit our Wild Hedgehogs site for more info.

Native plants and trees are a great indicator of wider changes in the environment. Early sightings of plants such as daffodils and snowdrops could be an indicator of  climate change. Take a look at The Woodland Trust's Nature's Calendar which documents unusual seasonal events spotted by the general public, as a way of demonstrating how climate change could be affecting our wildlife.

Let us know what unusual wildlife you've spotted lately!

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