Keep your eyes and ears open for fieldfares and redwings as they head over from Scandinavia for the winter, to feast on berries and worms. Redwings migrate as night, as do many migrants but are characteristically vocal as they do. Good reserves to spot them feeding include Kingcombe Meadows and the edges of Upton Heath.
Out on the heaths look out for Dartford warblers hunting for their favourite food, insects and spiders. Unlike most other warblers, Dartfords see out the cold winter months here.
On and around Poole and Christchurch Harbours and Weymouth’s wetlands look out for wintering ducks, geese and divers, including dark-bellied brent geese, red breasted mergansers and great northern divers. Reedbeds in Weymouth and Poole host the elusive bittern, one of the most threatened species in the UK.
In the winter months bird activity in our gardens is boosted by blue tit, chaffinch, siskin and great tit, thousands of which will have migrated from Scandinavia and other bitterly cold places in northern Europe. If the weather turns harsh, you could also see bramblings. Why not give the birds a helping hand this winter? By regularly providing food and fresh water, you’ll get the added bonus of seeing these magnificent creatures up-close, day in, day out.
This seems to be a bumper year for red admirals, gliding through the air making the most of fallen fruit in your gardens. Keep an eye out for them on milder winter days as they tend to over winter rather than hibernate.
Hedgehogs will have been feeding up as adults need to be at least 600grams in weight to make it through the cold winter months and juveniles at least 450grams. By November, they should be hibernating unless it is still mild. If you see a hedgehog around in cold weather, particularly in daylight, please contact the hedgehog preservation society for advice at www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk.