This month look out for:
spawn in ponds
catkins opening out
flocks in wetlands and estuaries
fieldfares and waxwings
visiting the bird table & hanging feeders
The month of February can be as harsh as any, with snow and freezing
winds. However its is possible to spot hints of better things to
come. Although spring is still several weeks away the first signs
are there to see. Hazel catkins have started to expand into
golden tassels in order to release their pollen to the wind. The
female part of the hazel plant, which catches the wind borne pollen,
consists of a tiny red cone of red stigmas.
hazel plant's female 'pollen receptors'
The beautiful and delicate snowdrops now poke their heads
above the cold earth in abundance. Although not native in many
places they have become naturalised and can carpet the woodland floor.
Snowdrops have particularly spread along river banks in some
localities. Winter aconite are also early flowering
introductions, with their cheerful yellow buttercup like flowers.
In the world of birds the winter migrants are still in Britain.
The estuaries are full of waders furiously feeding for worms and other
titbits in the mud. Ducks are also to be found in large flocks on
estuaries, along with geese and swans at some locations.
Some birds have already started to sing. Mistle and
song thrushes proclaim their territory from lofty perches.
On the sunnier days a great tit may sing its repetitive "tea-cher
tea-cher" song. For more information on bird songs visit the
bird song page.
At the garden bird tables small birds are more than ever in need of
the food put out for them to see them through the cold nights.
Siskins may be a treat at this time of year for the garden bird
watcher. Some birds, such as blue tits, are already prospecting
for nesting sites and hence it is important to get bird boxes in place
If you are lucky you may have visiting waxwings. These
tropical looking visitors are in fact from Scandinavia. They work
their way through the country feeding on any berry laden rowan trees,
starting in the north east and moving to the south west. As they
are normally birds of the wild they seem to ignore humans to some
extent, which permits great views if you are lucky. They feed in
bursts, then rest and preen for a period, only to start feeding again.
Often in large flocks they call to one another with a pleasant piping