January has moved into February and across the UK the country is still experiencing an unusually mild winter, although that may yet change. However, that doesn't mean you can't observe wildlife. Even at this tough time of year, there is still plenty going on in the natural world and, soon enough, the first signs of spring will start to emerge. We take at look at some of February's highlights below:
Return of the birdsong
Throughout most of January, the only birdsong was that of the Robin. However, as the days get longer in February, other species will begin to find their voice. Thrushes, tits, and Chaffinches will all sing in a bid to proclaim their territories and find mates, making this a perfect time to try to learn how to identify different species by their song. If you're lucky, you may even hear the unmistakable drumming sound of the Great Spotted Woodpecker hammering on a tree with its beak to announce its presence to potential mates.
Love is in the air
In preparation for the spring, February sees some of the UK's bird species embark on spectacular displays of courtship in a bid to find a partner. Take the Grey Heron, for example. These impressive birds with begin to gather in communal nesting sites, known as heronries, at this time of year. Males and females will then bond by simultaneously stretching their necks and pointing their bills towards the sky. The ritual can also involve mutual preening and the birds will even snap at one another. It may sound like a strange way to find a partner, but it seems to work for herons!
Another elaborate courtship display is carried out by the Great Crested Grebe, which is famous for its mating dance. Comprised of numerous stages that range from head shaking to diving for greenery, the display is one of the wildlife sights of the year and it's worth well taking a trip to the waterways these birds call home to try to catch a glimpse.
Waking from their slumber
Towards the end of February, many of the creatures that have slept through the winter will begin to stir. Both frogs and toads often start the arduous journey back to their birthplace at this time of year and frogspawn will soon become notable in garden ponds. Badgers will become more active in February, with pregnant females often giving birth in their sets and males beginning to roam their territories in search of mating opportunities.
Give a helping hand
February may see winter start to relinquish its grip on the UK, but birds can still do with your help. After a tough few months, being able to visit a garden feeder could be the difference between making it through to spring or not. February is also the perfect time to install nest boxes in your garden, giving birds a place to raise their young and allowing you to witness the start of new life at close hand.
Images from iStock