There are many benefits to getting out and about walking this winter, not only are there some utterly beautiful frosty mornings to take a crisp, chilly stroll in; the winter also brings different wildlife to visit and a nice country walk can mean spotting some lovely animals.
A starling murmuration is when thousands of these birds are all swooping and diving in unison, it is simply wonderful to see.
Autumn roosts usually begin to form in November and more and more birds will flock together as the weeks go on.
The number of starlings in a roost can swell to around 100,000.
Early evening, just before dusk is probably the best time to see these starling murmurations, just look to the skies.
White Mountain Hares
Mountain hares live in Scotland and the North and during the winter months their fur turns white with only their ear tips staying black.
Mountain hares live in upland areas and are most common on heathland; they are at their most visible in spring however you can still spot these beautiful hares during the winter by looking out for the distinctive tips of their ears.
In late winter you’ll have the best chance of seeing and getting close to red squirrels. Courting squirrels are less wary than usual which is what makes these later winter months the best time to spot them.
Also squirrels do not hibernates o they will still be out and about during the winter months. They do tend to be less active on cold, wet or windy days (don’t we all!) but in the woodland, bare winter branches can make it easier to spot the red squirrel darting about.
A bright white winters snowfall is a blessing when you are looking for a red squirrel, keep an eye out for tracks on the ground and on snow-covered branches.
Short Eared Owls
Short-eared owls are medium sized owls with mottled brown bodies, pale under-wings and yellow eyes.
Here in the UK short-eared owls breed primarily in Northern England and Scotland and are seen more widely during the winter months.
Short-eared owls are best looked for in winter on coastal marshes and wetlands but you must be careful to avoid disturbance at communal roost sites.
The lovely Robin is often associated with christmas and the winter months and appears on many a christmas card.
In the winter, resident birds are joined by Robins from continental Europe, mostly from Scandinavia; these Robins are paler, have a duller red breast and are generally less tame because they skulk in woodlands.
Even when standing in snow, a robin's feet don't get cold. Their circulation is so fast that the blood doesn't have time to chill, which is why they are a great bird to spot in the winter months.
Winter is the best time to listen out for the sound of foxes due to their three to six day mating period occurring during this cold season.
Commonly found in wooded areas, among the extensive list of locations that foxes inhabit, including cliff sides and high mountains, the evident determination of survival for this creature is reflected in the intensity of the sound heard on a woodland walk when calling for their mate, so keep your ears open for the screaming like sounds of a fox.
The green woodpecker is the largest of the three breeds that habitat in Britain, and feed mostly on the ground which improves the chance of spotting them.
Their noisiest period is generally January and February during the cold winter months and they habitat in wooded areas, nesting in trees, so if you are taking a woodland walk you may be lucky enough to see one.
Alongside their hammering into deadwood, the laughing call of this bird can be heard during the winter season.
Ok so ducks are often relatively easy to spot throughout the year but that doesn’t make them any less of an interesting bird to see whilst on a nice winters walk.
Ducks are in their greatest number during the winter and the unmistakable ‘quack’ we’ve been accustomed to is usually the female duck, with the male responding with a quieter and more raspy call.
The winter nesting season furthermore brings out the best plumage in the Mallard male ducks, or drakes, making them really beautiful to see.