Nature Now - February 2019

by Rich Howorth Nature Now

Wintry cold (and snow!) has been the dominant weather of late, with more likely before the season is out. However there are the very first signs of spring evident if you take a closer look – from bulbs emerging to birds singing. The days are also visibly extending in length, so that by the end of February we have an additional three hours of daylight to enjoy (relative to the shortest day).

The nights are still long enough however to appreciate the spectacle of winter stars, which you can enjoy through attending an event of the South Downs Dark Skies Festival, taking place 15th February – 3rd March which this year includes a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first moon landings by Apollo 11.

Some farms will be taking advantage of the improving growing conditions, drilling arable fields with spring cereals such as Barley as well as lambing early by bringing their ewes indoors.

Nature is just starting to re-awaken to engage anew in the annual cycle of breeding and birth. February is the month to see the first Snowdrops emerging in flower, along with the fresh glossy green broad leaves of Cuckoo pint and catkins of Hazel opening in woodlands. Toads will be emerging from their overwintering sites and starting to migrate back to their ancestral ponds, and the first Frog spawn may soon be found from those individuals willing to take a chance with frosts. There is a trend of increasingly early spawning as our climate warms year on year.

Bird song and activity is increasing each day now, as resident species such as Great Tits start to establish and defend their breeding territories for the spring. Other birds meanwhile will be preparing to return to more northerly latitudes, having enjoyed the refuge of our winter’s relatively benign temperatures. Now is the last opportunity for you to clear out the contents of your garden nest box from last year, before it is needed again for this season’s nesting – so look sharp before the weather warms up!

Take a look at our ‘Explore The Living Coast’ interactive map for inspiration on where you could be getting out to in the great outdoors this month!

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