11 January 2016

Wildlife Connections is all about creating safe spaces for our wonderful local wildlife and by recording what you see you’ll also be helping to protect the nature we love.

So we’ve pulled together some ideas of what to look out for so you can warm up those wildlife watching skills and keep your eyes peeled for these winter wonders. Also, you can find our top wildlife watching hints and tips here.

Don’t forget to let us know if you do see any of these species and add it to our recording form. If possible, try and take a photo of it too.

You can do this from the comfort of your own home – spend a relaxing afternoon spotting what wildlife comes into your back garden. Or when you’re walking the dog or making your way home from work, keep an eye out for these winter characters:

Fieldfare

Fieldfare. Photo credit: Roger Wilkinson

Fieldfares are a similar size to a blackbird; with a light grey head and back, brown wings and a striking black long tail which contrasts with the rest of its body. They tend to be found in flocks and are regular visitors to UK gardens in winter searching for fruit and berries. 

Want to look out for more winter birds? BBC Earth has listed the top 10 birds to look out for this winter, here.

Mole

Mole hill. Photo credit: Paul Hill

The mole is an animal that is usually overlooked as they are rarely seen; this is due to the fact that they spend the majority of their life underground. They are found throughout the UK in many habitats – as long as there is soil deep enough to allow tunnelling.

Look out for mounds of soil on the ground; this is a sign they’re tunnelling. They can tunnel up to 200metres a day, rising to the surface every few metres with a heap of soil. You might see mole hills in places you don’t necessarily want to…like your garden!

Worms are the most important part of the mole’s diet in the winter and each mole will store worms in a special part of their tunnel system.

If you do spot any mole hills, make a note of how many you spot in one area and record it on our form, here.

Celandine

During the grey winter months the appearance of the beautiful beautiful yellow lesser celandine flower is a welcomed sight! This species of plant is widespread across the UK and can be spotted in hedgerows, woods and alongside streams – reaching no more than 5cm in height. Lesser celandine can also be found in your garden.

Woodlice

Common woodlouse. Photo credit: Steve McWilliam

You’ve probably spotted plenty of woodlice in the past but never knew just how important they are to us. They mostly feed on dead decaying plants and are an important nutrient-recycler. They are also a food source for so many other animals including birds, mammals and amphibians; making them a vital link in the food chain!

The common woodlouse looks like it’s wearing body amour. They’re small and have a shiny grey body with lighter grey edges. There are about 30 species of woodlice that vary in size, shape and colour.

You’re most likely to spot these critters in damp places, for example: under stones, logs or in compost heaps where they like to hide, feed and breed. So, when you’re thinking about making your garden more wildlife friendly, don’t forget about the smaller creatures too.