By Rachel Shaw of Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust
Despite being the coldest and darkest time of the year, there’s a wonderland of wildlife experiences waiting to be had during the winter months.
So wrap up your young ones in preparation for their wildest winter yet!
Grab your gloves, pull on your wellies and immerse yourselves in The Wildlife Trusts’ brrr-illiant route to spending time with nature this winter.
My Wild Winter (wildlifetrusts.org/MyWildWinter) is an online wildlife and activity guide jam-packed with ideas and information, complemented by places to go and things to do.
All will help families to explore nature and wild places, at home or on days out over the remainder of the festive period.
There’s also a reading list from which young readers can choose some great nature-inspired books – perfect for curling up in comfy chairs.
Exploring nature at a young age can bring a lifetime of pleasure and winter offers a multitude of wildlife experiences to be had – build a shelter for yourself and a nest box for a bird, muck about with snow, ice and in the dark and identify wildlife from the tracks and signs they leave behind. Look out for deer, foxes, rabbits and different types of bird prints.
My Wild Winter activity guide is our free downloadable guide to wildlife, habitats and activities to look out for and try this winter. It includes:
Places to go
Our nature reserves are great places to visit all year round, with loads to see and do in winter. Try a frozen wetland such as Whisby Nature Park (Lincoln) or Far Ings National Nature Reserve (Barton-upon-Humber) for a chance to see secretive bitterns.
Be amazed by flocks of winter waders at the coast at Gibraltar Point National Nature Reserve (Skegness). Explore the woodland and grassland at Snipe Dales Country Park (Spilsby) and look for fox and badger footprints in the snow or mud.
Things to do
The Wildlife Trusts across the UK run hundreds of events every year, from guided walks and talks to bat detecting, bird ringing and photography courses.
There are also hundreds of regular children’s groups where young ones and families can try pond dipping, wild camping and much more!
Browse our events calendar (wildlifetrusts.org/whats-on) to find an activity taking place near you and explore our interactive map (wildlifetrusts.org/natureclubs) which contains more than 200 regular children’s groups across the UK.
In Lincolnshire there are children’s groups at Alford and Mablethorpe, Bourne, Coningsby, Grimsby, Horncastle and the Limewoods, Rimac (Saltfleetby-Theddlethorpe), Spalding, West Kesteven and Whisby Nature Park.
Ducks, geese and swans all visit the UK in winter. Look out for large flocks of migratory geese, especially at the coast, and starling ‘murmurations’ where hundreds of birds swoop through the sky together before settling down to roost for the night.
Tick off the wildlife you see this winter with our spotting sheets. They may help to identify different species or you may like to challenge yourself to find different kinds. There’s a wide choice to choose from at (wildlifetrusts.org/spotting-sheets) including a special winter spotting sheet.
Ever wanted to try plaster casting or discover animal tracks? Need a bird feeder or nest box and would like to make your own? Try our guides for loads of winter nature activities at (wildlifetrusts.org/activity-sheets).
Help winter wildlife by making your own bird food and feeder – watch these great videos from nature nut Nick Baker at www.youtube.com and he’ll show you how. Type “how to make bird cake” and “winter water for birds.” in the video search.
Nick said: “On frosty mornings, wrap up warm and head out on a bracing birdwatching walk. Bird movements can be seen pretty much anywhere we care to look in winter, from the nut feeder to the wild open estuaries. Winter can be bleak but it can also be beautiful.”
The Wildlife Trust’s Stephen Trotter said: “Keeping warm and finding food are the top tasks for many creatures at this time of year.
“With food in short supply, many animals venture out into the open which can make it easier for us to spot wildlife in winter. We’d love for young curious minds to escape the central heating and explore their local winter wildlife.”
The Wildlife Trusts are running a competition to win a break at Center Parcs.
Everyone who takes action for wildlife between now and Saturday, January 31 – whether it’s making bird feeders, providing water for garden wildlife or putting up a nest box – could be in with a chance of winning the break, just by sharing a picture via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #wildwintersdayscomp.
Tweets will link to a competition landing page which will disclose full terms and conditions http://www.wild lifetrusts.org/wildwinterdays
Several of The Wildlife Trusts’ nature reserves have sand pits, mud kitchens and outdoor gyms to encourage young minds to explore, create and discover. See our guide to nature reserves at wildlifetrusts.org/familyfun.
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