Winter wildlife challenge

Wednesday 8th December 2010

Now is a great time of year for wildlife adventures

It’s winter. Think that means you need to be shut up indoors, glued to a screen? Think again!

Winter is a fascinating time to find out about wildlife but the cold weather means that many wild animals have a fight for survival on their hands. The latest issue of Wildlife Watch, The Wildlife Trusts’ magazine for junior members, investigates how wildlife copes with the freezing cold weather and lots more besides - from pine martens and leaf litter to a winter beachcombing guide.

With a thick layer of leaf litter carpeting the ground, winter is the time to get our hands dirty, and discover the mysterious creatures lurking beneath – fascinating mini-beasts like the false scorpion and the springtail. Naturalist and TV presenter Nick Baker tells us how to get started.

Pine martens are beady-eyed beauties, cat-sized mammals related to weasels. They are rare in the UK but Paul Evans investigates new research that shows they might be living closer to many of us than we think. And he offers some top tips on where we might look for signs.

And whilst we may not venture out too much during the season’s stormy weather, the creatures it washes on to our beaches turn coastal walks into the perfect wildlife identification opportunity. The Wildlife Watch ‘Beginner’s guide to Beachcombing’ includes an identification sheet and top tips on exploring the shoreline to discover marine treasures like mermaid’s purses and ammonite fossils.

Adam Cormack, Communications Manager for The Wildlife Trusts, said:

“Winter is a top time to wrap up warm and spot wildlife, as there is less foliage, making any birds and mammals that are out there easier to see. You may also be more likely to see wildlife foraging, as food is less naturally abundant and this means more birds than usual may be visiting your garden. Tracking wildlife can be great fun at this time of year – look out for footprints or other signs of wildlife in the mud or snow. Don’t forget you can help birds in your garden by supplying food and water. Visit to find out Nick Baker’s top tips for how to stop your water for birds freezing over.

“This issue of Wildlife Watch provides plenty of tips to get you started on your winter wildlife-watching. All you need now is a pair of wellies and warm clothes!”

For more information about Wildlife Watch, including downloadable spotting sheets, games and species fact files, visit

Story by RSWT