Winter wildlife in the garden
Once the balmy late autumnal days with unseasonal, though windy conditions had finally left us, winter finally set in, with hard frosts, cold northerly winds and the 1st snow of the year.
At this time of year, we are keeping an eye out for some of our avian winter-visitors, such as redwing and fieldfare from Scandinavia which arrive en-masse during the months of November and December. With ample supplies of yew berries, holly and mistletoe in and around the gardens, these birds can become quite numerous and approachable as they feast on the seasonal bounty. With luck we may even be graced with a few waxwings which also come down the same route, but are much more scarce, as they are far more 'irruptive'. They tend to arrive in their hordes only if the berries run out in their native countries, or the weather becomes too severe, so they head across to us, where we have (mostly) a much kinder climate.
At this time of year it is also more than likely that you could come across a wide-range of hibernating creatures.
Dry, dark corners in garden sheds, cellars and attics may hold quite significant numbers of ladybirds, a few butterfly species such as small tortoiseshell, peacock and red-admiral, and maybe a few bats as well.
Here at Prior Park there are a small number of overwintering lesser-horseshoe and pipistrelle bats, with the surrounding countryside hosting additional species.
And for anyone wondering if the kingfisher has returned to hunt for fish and entertain the visitors around the Serpentine Lake at the top of the garden this winter, then we are happy to announce that, yes, she's back, and has taken up her usual place along the flagstones at the edge of the water and the higher vantage points of the sham-bridge. So, keep an eye out for her when you visit.