Snow Watch

Credits: David Mather

Have you been enjoying a snow day or two?  

School cancelled, snowball fights and lots of hot chocolate to keep warm. Great, right? But what about our wildlife? They can't take a day off, so what do they do in the snow and ice? Here are just a few of the problems they face.

Ice skating - Solid ice on our ponds and rivers can cause problems for aquatic animals such as this poor water vole. The plants these animals feed on are out of reach without an opening in the ice, and air-breathing mammals risk becoming trapped if they can't find their way back to the surface.

 

Snow blankets - Thick layers of snow prevent grazing animals from reaching the grass and other plants they need. Animals that have strong front paws, such as this brown hare, can dig patches of snow to reach the food underneath. Smaller creatures find it more difficult.

 

 

 

 

 

C-c-c-c-cold - Small animals, particularly birds, find it hard to stay warm without lots of food. This fieldfare saves energy by sitting out the worst of the weather, but needs to top up regularly with sugary berries. Once these start to run out you might be more likely to see him sneaking into your garden to see what's on offer.

 

 

Caught out and about - Pure white snow can be a bit inconvenient for hunters which rely on staying hidden to surprise their dinner. Usually well camouflaged, animals like this fox now stand out and are easier to spot. It's good news for photographers and wildlife watchers though - especially as hungry critters become more active and bold in the snow.   

  
    
Winter around the Trusts  

The weather has had a real impact on the wildlife in some of the Trusts' nature reserves. Here are just a few of the stories from last year.  

 

Dorset Wildlife Trust - Perhaps delighted by recent snows, these two pure white sika deer where snapped by photographer Jane Adams in her local nature reserve. White sika deer are rare in the wild, but to see two together like this was a real winter treat!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust - Katie Gee snapped this confused bittern at Llyn Coed Y Dinas nature reserve. These birds became easier to see as the water froze over, often leaving their reedbed hiding places to search for open water. 

Dorset Wildlife Trust - Stormy seas churned up some weird and wonderful castaways on Dorset's beaches, including tropical creatures like this Columbus crab, usually found in much warmer waters.   

  
   
  
Lend a helping hand with your very own Wildlife Cafe - your garden!

- Don't forget to keep your bird feeders topped up. You might need to knock the snow off so that tiny beaks can reach the food.

 

- Create minibeast hotels by building lodges out of old canes or hollow plant stems. Bugs like ladybirds and lacewings can hibernate in the crevices, and small birds can pop by for a snack if they can't find insects elsewhere.

 

- Clear a patch of snow for birds and animals to reach the goodies underneath.

 

- Remember that water is important - animals can't drink snow!

 

Check out Nick Baker's guide to creating a watering hole for your garden visitors in his Wild Skills video - Winter Water for Birds.

 

Then get messy and complete your garden cafe menu with another Wild Skills video guide - How to make Bird Cake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photograph credits: Homepage: fallow deer by Damian Waters - drumimages.co.uk Main: water vole by Paul Meacham / brown hare by David North / fieldfare by Jane Adams / fox by Robin Mokryj / sika deer by Jane Adams / bittern by Katie Gee / Columbus crab by Steve Trewhella.

 

comments

  • Loonilor
    • Date: 2011-03-02 10:43:34
    • Loonilor

    Even though the photography is amazing I feel that what really stands out is how amazingly the animals can try to survive on this weather ,you would think some of them would just give up!!!

  • Loonilor
    • Date: 2011-03-02 10:42:03
    • Loonilor

    AMAZING photography here people!!! Quite extraordinary!!!

  • Antama
    • Date: 2011-02-27 10:05:02
    • Antama

    I saw a reindeer in Lapland.

  • Lizardu
    • Date: 2010-12-23 11:16:45
    • Lizardu

    clever idea for keeping water cool.

  • Peewitegro
    • Date: 2010-12-21 15:29:28
    • Peewitegro

    The water vole looks really cute, it looks like it is ice skating on the ice!!

  • Peewitegro
    • Date: 2010-12-21 09:42:05
    • Peewitegro

    Cool!!!!!!!

  • Peewitegro
    • Date: 2010-12-21 09:16:35
    • Peewitegro

    Good pictures!!!

  • Minkalis
    • Date: 2010-12-20 17:09:28
    • Minkalis

    nmnmnmnmnmnmnmnmnmnmnmnmnmnmnm

  • Grassula
    • Date: 2010-12-18 13:55:16
    • Grassula

    Cool

  • Flycategra
    • Date: 2010-02-25 17:30:20
    • Flycategra

    thats good news for photographers but............ BAD news for the animals!!!

  •  Back 
  •  1 
  •  2 
  •  Next