Winter Wildlife in the Midlands

Redwing in parkland at Charlecote in winter

It may sometimes appear that there's little wildlife to see at this time of year, but in fact there's plenty going on if you know where to look, and the places we care for make a great backdrop for wildlife spotting.

Birds

The arrival of winter is heralded by the first flocks of winter thrushes (fieldfares and redwings) from Scandinavia pretty much everywhere but especially on open fields and grasslands of our parks and surrounding estates. They also head for mature hedges with crops of hawthorn and other berries. Listen out for the “chack, chack, chack” call of fieldfares overhead.

Similarly, open arable fields often support winter flocks of golden plover and lapwing, our resident birds being joined by huge numbers moving into “warmer” Britain from further north and east. The same applies to the large winter roosts of starlings sometimes seen as swirling flocks or “murmurations” coming to roost.

Mammals

Our mammals will be spending the winter either hibernating (bats, dormouse, hedgehogs to a degree) or only appearing when the conditions are fair or when they are driven out into the snow by hunger (badgers, squirrels).

Trees

Our deciduous trees will also be “hibernating” when they shut down for winter having lost their leaves. This is a good time to appreciate the huge girth and splendour of our ancient trees, especially in our parklands where some are a 1000 years or more old.

The silhouette of a tree against the low morning sun at Calke
Calke park on a frost winter morning
The silhouette of a tree against the low morning sun at Calke

Finches

Winter is the time of year to look out for flocks of colourful finches, either moving atop trees or feeding on the ground where there is spilled grain or other food. Look out for goldfinch, chaffinch, greenfinch and siskin in particular and amongst them smaller numbers of brambling or reed bunting. If you happen to walk by a yew tree it may well be being guarded by a noisy mistle thrush (“trrrrrr, trrrrrr” call) chasing away other birds attempting to steal what it considers to be its berries!

Will you see a greenfinch on your travels?
Male greenfinch on a feeder
Will you see a greenfinch on your travels?