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Goodbye, Autumn! UK Winter Wildlife highlights

BBC presenters
The BBC’s Autumnwatch team

So, it’s rolled around to this time of year again. The clocks have turned back, the night has rolled in and the BBC’s venerable wildlife lover’s institution that is Autumnwatch has wrapped up again for another year. The beloved annual production did not disappoint this year, bringing us stories such as the use of big data to track urban foxes in Brighton, and an update on British bug activity. Of course, of most interest to ourselves was the use of both Infra-red and thermal imaging cameras in order to unveil the night time activities of waterfowl and Otter’s at the RSPB’s Leighton Moss reserve.
The show also made a rare (if careful) foray into current affairs, by touching on the background for the wildly controversial Badger cull that was mandated in recent weeks in an attempt to slow the spread of bovine TB.

Of course, any seasoned nature watcher will know that the approach of Winter doesn’t signal the end of wildlife activity for the year, but instead ushers in a new season of spectacles and species…

Winter Wildlife Visitors

Bewick's Swan
The Bewick’s Swan is a common winter visitor to the UK – image Marianne Bevis via Flickr

Autumn marks the departure of warm weather birds such as Swallows, who exit for warmer climes until Spring, it also sees the return of many winter species that flock here for our mild climate. These include the Bewick’s swan, which start arriving in November from their extensive breeding grounds throughout the tundra of Siberia. They winter in several sites in the UK, notably including the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust’s Slimbridge estate in Gloucestershire. On occasions, the lucky visitor to the reserve in the coming months might even see a Less White-fronted Goose, one of the rarest bird species to visit the UK.

November is also when Starlings start to form in huge “Murmations”- massive flocks of birds that seem to shift across the sky as if they were one creature. The flocks move in unison in order to catch food and evade predators, and it truly forms one of the season’s most spectacular sights. The flocks form in many locations across the UK, but one of the most popular places to see them is in Brighton, where the birds routinely can be seen swooping around the pier.

-Amazing starling Murmuration footage from youtube user raisingmaggie

Get the garden prepared!

For those of you equipped with one of our popular bird box cameras, it may not seem like now is the prime time to start planning for nesting species, but don’t be fooled- many birds actually start looking for a location to nest in the middle of winter. This means that now is actually the ideal time to get your Bird Box installed, ready for the birds to find. Remember, it’s usually best to locate them a few feet off the ground to deter cats, and in a North-to-easterly direction to avoid the hot sun. Of course, recommendations do vary between species, so it’s always good to check the RSPB’s advice page. For those already with boxes installed, now is the ideal time to clean out this year’s nesting materials for potential parasites, ready for new visitors!

Did you catch any footage of Autumn wildlife? Busy getting ready for it’s return in Spring? Get in touch and let us know!

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