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 Christmas. My Wild Winter 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 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 over Christmas.
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
Tees Valley Wildlife Trust nature reserves are great places to visit all year round, with loads to see and do in winter. Try Portrack Marsh just before sunset for starling murmurations. Be amazed by flocks of winter waders at Coatham Marsh. Explore Saltburn Gill under snow and look for fox and badger footprints. For more reserves visit here.
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 here, including a special winter spotting sheet.
Ever wanted to try plaster casting or discover animal tracks and signs? Need a bird feeder or nest box and would like to make your own? Fancy creating your own ice decorations? Try our easy-to-use guides for loads of winter nature activities here.
Nick said: “On frosty mornings, wrap up warm – don thick socks and woolly hats – 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 and there’s something about the sharp sometimes biting air which is so invigorating! When you’re home, warm up with a hot chocolate, then bake a bird cake and watch the garden birds come to you. Prepare a feast and watch them flock in!”
The Wildlife Trusts’ 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. It’s a great time to look for animal tracks too – in the snow, frost or mud! What an opportunity! We’d love for young curious minds to escape the central heating, see how cold their noses can go, and explore and discover their local winter wildlife.”
As part of My Wild Winter, The Wildlife Trusts are running a competition to win a break at Center Parcs. Everyone who takes action for wildlife between Fri 19 Dec and Sat 31 Jan 2015 – 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 here.
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 which are perfect for pushchairs, wild play and great family days out.
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