So here we are, the last wildlife enquiries blog for 2013, we thought we would use this blog to think back to what has been a dramatic year for wildlife in the UK and to look forward to next year. 2013 has flown by so here is a quick recap on some of the wildlife stories.
The year started with one of the best 'waxwing winters' that we have seen in the UK for some time, numbering in the several thousands (not repeated so far this winter unfortunately!). The cold weather and poor natural food availability piled on the pressure for our wintering birds and the cold snap came back with a vengeance as we entered into spring playing havoc with many early nesting attempts and migratory birds.
What happened next was quite a surprise, we actually had a proper summer! Late spring and the summer months provided ideal conditions for wildlife of all kinds. Flowers were plentiful along the hedgerows, bees, moths and butterflies were able to breed and that made for a productive summer for many of our bird species who are still taking advantage of the bounty created by the good early summer weather with lots of berries and fruit still to find in the trees and shrubs. Acorns also bounced back after an almost total fail last year much to the joy of our resident jays!
A few big things happened in 'RSPB world' - the state of nature report was published in a joint operation across lots of conservation groups, we launched our Giving Nature a Home campaign, the hen harrier failed to breed in England, cranes bred in Scotland...there are so many stories, what conservation story sticks out most in your mind from 2013?
Despite a few storms this autumn the weather has been fairly mild which has meant many gardens being pretty quiet in terms of birdlife, they are still finding plenty of shelter and food in the hedges and woodland edges. And here we are again, on the back of some of the worst storms for decades picking up the pieces, what could happen next year? Well my prediction is that things may get a little colder over the next month or so and gardens will once again bustle with birdlife around the feeders. With a few nights of clear sky lately i've been keeping a look out for shooting stars, there have been a few corkers, I have been using my wishes wisely, I'm hoping for a mild spring which may help the fortunes of our migrant visitors, but the one thing I really do wish for next year is a year of success for hen harriers!
What would be your wish for 2014 regarding wildlife in the UK?
This will also be my last blog so farewell, thanks for following, I hope you have found my wafflings interesting or useful!
Merry Christmas and happy new year!
Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
Some may avoid it by shopping online, some may do it earlier and some might just not do it at all, but I can't help but consider Christmas shopping as a necessary evil at this time of year. The crowded streets, bombardment of Christmas music over the radio and the cold weather don't make it a particularly appealing prospect for me. However, even the dreaded Christmas shopping can result in opportunities to observe some of natures spectacles. Here are a few things to look out for!
Pied wagtails - this charming little bird of our towns and cities is often one of the only birds you will come across in the street. If you can't see it you might hear it flitting between rooftops making it's 'chis-sik' call. During the winter they often gather in large numbers in towns where they roost communally in street trees.
Car park berry trees - most out of town shopping centres have some degree of tree planting and thankfully for our wintering birds they choose berry bearing species like rowans. Unfortunately this year we probably won't be seeing too many waxwings but keep an eye out on these trees just in case, you should see our normal bunch of winter thrushes and finches taking advantage, as well as the ever present woodpigeons and starlings.
Town parks - get away from the rat race for a few minutes to have a walk around any nearby town parks, you might find some waterfowl, stumble across a mixed flock of tits and goldcrests in the shrubs or even a few minutes watching the feral pigeons may help calm any frayed nerves! If there is a river running through the town then there might be a chance to see some otters, water voles or grey wagtails along the banks.
Look up - over the town many things could be happening to which the vast majority of shoppers will be oblivious. A peregrine may be perched up high surveying the area for the next meal, gulls may be passing overhead in their lazy 'v's heading to roost or a starling murmuration may be twisting across the sky before dropping into a nearby copse.
Late night shopping - keep an eye out for any foxes that might be lurking in the darkness, you might even hear a tawny owl.
Can you think of any other urban wildlife that could offer a welcome distraction during the Christmas shopping scrummage?