Happy New Year, with our best wishes for both people and nature in The Living Coast for the new decade.
In the countryside farmers are providing supplementary feeding of hay to their livestock, many of whom will be kept indoors due to the reduced grass growth and wet conditions. Arable farmers will have their autumn-sown crops well-established by now.
Many plants and animals lie dormant or are in hibernation during mid-winter, however some wildlife can be quite active, especially at night! You might hear the melodic hoots of Tawny owls (“ke-wick hoo-hoo-oooo”) calling to each other in the darkness, or alternatively the much harsher barks and screams of Foxes on their annual search for a mate.
Birds are perhaps the most obvious wildlife at this time of year however, sometimes in great numbers including waders on the river estuaries of the Adur and Ouse, as well as the ‘murmurations’ of Starlings that gather to roost on Brighton’s piers. In gardens you should keep an eye out for unusual visitors such as Redwings and Fieldfares from Scandinavia, or even a Waxwing in cold conditions – and don’t forget to take part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch for an hour over the last weekend of the month (25-27th January).
In woodlands you might hear the drumming of a Great Spotted Woodpecker against a tree to establish its breeding territory. Other birds are starting to sing to hold a territory too, such as the Song Thrush with its loud repeated notes, as well as Robins, Blackbirds and Great Tits.