Winter wildlife

Blue tits are easy to spot

Winter on Crickley Hill brings many changes. Animals have finished preparing for the cold season ahead and birds are busy finding food.

The beech trees in the woods are bare, leaving behind a thick carpet of leaves on the woodland floor. The carpet is so thick only specialist plants can survive.

The woods are home to many different types of birds. If the autumn has been kind and there's an abundance of winter berries, you can spot redwings and fieldfares. They roam the hill, feeding in the fields and hedgerows. Fieldfares spend the winter in flocks. Some flocks can be as large as several hundred birds. Hawthorn hedges with berries are a firm favourite.

If you're very quiet, you may be lucky enough to spot a nuthatch. Creeping up and down the beech trees, they're on the look out for insects, beechmasts and other nuts. You're more likely to hear them before you spot them as they're very vocal.

Nuthatches are always on the look out for a tasty treat
Nuthatches are always on the look out for a tasty treat
Nuthatches are always on the look out for a tasty treat

The laughing call from the green woodpeckers is unmistakable. You can spot them flitting between the oak trees in Shortwood. They love to eat ants and will use their strong beak to probe straight into an ant colony.

Kestrels are a common sight on Crickley Hill. They hover over the land on the hunt for their next meal.

Kestrels are renowned for their ability to hover
Kestrels are renowned for their ability to hover
Kestrels are renowned for their ability to hover

Mixed flocks of tits and finches are common in the woods too. Long tailed-tits rove the woods and hedgerows in small, excitable flocks.