The midwinter may be considered bleak, but actually winter is a great season to experience wildlife as long as you are well-prepared, with woolly gloves and flask in hand. The Lincolnshire Wolds provide 216 square-miles of rolling countryside, protected through its Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) status.
Situated in the North-Eastern quarter of Lincolnshire, it consists of diverse landscapes such as ancient woodland, chalklands and waterways; ideal for an array of species. Wildlife encounters at this time of year are plentiful.
Crisp, cold winter days with no wind are ideal for spotting birds of prey, such as barn owls who hunt over grasslands. Indeed, it is easier to spot a wide range of birds during the winter months as there is little foliage on the trees.
You are therefore more likely to see the birds as well as hear them, making it a great time to be able to learn their individual songs! Sites such as Snipe Dales Country Park and Nature Reserve, where the threatened Willow Tit has a special stronghold, provide an incredible array of habitats for birds and other species.
Wildfowl and wading birds flock to Britain during the winter months, providing some spectacular viewing experiences. Look out for overwintering ducks too like Wigeon, Teal and Shoveler at lakes, reservoirs and areas such as at Kirkby Gravel Pits Nature Reserve. Here you might also spot birds of prey as they take advantage of the increase in wader bird numbers.
Ancient woodlands provide vital habitats for countless species. Oak and yew trees may look lifeless, but under the bark millions of insects are surviving the harsh weather.
These trees additionally provide shelter for birds and squirrels, who will also pick off any insects that surface.
As the winter months wane, keep a lookout for snowdrops, which are prepared to rapidly take advantage of the warmer temperatures when they occur. Several species of deer also make an appearance.
Shy and elusive, Fallow and Roe deer are known to roam the Wolds, preferring woodland with large clearings. Towards the end of winter, you might be lucky enough to spot hares boxing in farmland, grassland and woodland.
Females will test out males’ capabilities in preparation for the breeding season. Winter is the perfect time to experience wildlife on your doorstep. Why not search for new sights and discover Lincolnshire in a different season thanks to the bounty of the Lincolnshire Wolds.
For more information visit: www.lincstrust.org.uk
Article by Bryony James, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust.