Posted on 1st November 2014
Autumn draws to a close in November and winter arrives. Fieldfares and Redwings, two members of the thrush family that breed in Scandinavia, fly to this country for the winter months and can be seen feeding on berries in the hedgerows. Exotic looking wildfowl such as Smew, Goosander and Goldeneye from the same location also come here and are found in varying numbers at the counties’ reservoirs, most notably Rutland Water.
Dusk is a magical time in the winter, when large flocks of crows and gulls can be seen flying to roost communally for the night, Foxes and birds of prey such as Short-eared and Barn Owls are hunting for food, and deer are cautiously feeding too. The Trust’s woodlands such as Launde Big and Launde Park Woods, are places where Muntjac deer are found, although they are cause for concern in that they can damage trees and other plants. Ulverscroft and Charnwood Lodge are likely to reveal a Fox in the shadows, a calling Tawny Owl or maybe a fast flying Woodcock. Short-eared Owls are regularly seen at Cossington Meadows in years when small mammal populations are high.
November is also a month when Hedgehogs are trying to put on fat to get them through the winter hibernation period. This once familiar mammal has declined substantially in numbers in recent years. While cars and other vehicles may seem like obvious causes of hedgehog deaths, loss of habitat in built-up areas may also be a major factor. The conversion of many front gardens into what are effectively small car parks is just one example.
Photograph: The dry summer ad he resulting hard ground made feeding difficult for Hedgehogs that now need to gain weight to survive the winter. (Gillian Day)