The UK’s Best Winter Nature Spotting Places

You’d be forgiven for thinking that spring or summer might be the best seasons for nature spotting in the UK but in fact, the cold winter months are an excellent time to wrap up warm and get outdoors with many rare sights and wildlife spectacles to witness across the UK.

Here are some of the UK’s best winter nature spotting places.

River Esk, North York Moors

Throughout November and December, it’s possible to witness salmon runs on the River Esk on the North York Moors. Despite declining wild salmon stocks, they can still be spotted swimming and leaping upstream to return to the rivers where they were born.

For your best chance of spotting this spectacle, choose a day with heavy rainfall after a dry spell. Villages along the River Esk, such as Ruswarp and Grosmont are a good place to start.

Blakeney Point, Norfolk

Blakeney Point in Norfolk is home to the UK’s largest Grey Seal colony with approximately 4,000 seal pups born each year between November and January. It’s not possible to walk to see the seals on Blakeney Point, so spotting this wonderful phenomenon involves taking a boat trip from Morston Quay.

If you can’t make it to Blakeney Point, it’s also possible to view grey seals on foot from other UK spotting places, such as Donna Nook in Lincolnshire, Pendennis Point in Falmouth or Chanonry Point in Inverness where you can also spot dolphins!

Dartmoor, Devon

Winter is tough on Dartmoor but it remains one of the UK’s best winter nature spotting places. Hardy little Dartmoor ponies are well equipped to deal with the harsh weather and can be spotted throughout winter from many places across the moor. They’re commonly seen upland and also take shelter in valleys and forests. Remember that Dartmoor ponies are wild animals, so as cute as they look, they’re best spotted from a distance.

Yarner Woods on the edge of Dartmoor is home to many specialist woodland birds and you may see Nuthatches (who love sunflower seeds) along with Tits, Bullfinches and the Great Spotted Woodpecker. If you’re going bird spotting this winter, don’t forget your wild bird feed.

Bass Rock, Scotland

Described by Sir David Attenborough as “one of the wildlife wonders of the world”, Bass Rock in Scotland is undoubtedly one of the UK’s best winter nature spotting places. This volcanic crag sitting in the Firth of Forth is home to the largest gannet colony in the entire world.

A boat trip out to Bass Rock from the Scottish Seabird Centre will allow you to see the UK’s largest seabird diving into the sea from incredible heights and gannets can be spotted here anytime between February and October.

River Otter, Devon

Despite its name, the River Otter in Devon is a prime place for spotting beavers! A population of beavers have been present on the river for well over a decade now and The Devon Wildlife Trust began running a Beaver Trial to monitor their behaviour and effect on the local landscape.

The chances of spotting beavers in winter are slimmer than at other times of year but not impossible. Beavers are most active at dawn and dusk and even if you don’t spot one, you might hear splashing or gnawing as they go about their business!

Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland

One of the UK’s best winter nature spotting places is Strangford Lough in County Down, Northern Ireland. This is the winter home for up to 90% of the world’s population of light-bellied brent geese, who arrive here between September and November each year.

As well as over 700,00 seabirds who make their home at Strangford Lough, you can also spot marine life, along with Common seals, Grey seals, porpoises and otters. There have even been humpback whale sightings!

The Cairngorm National Park, Scotland

The Cairngorms are home to the UK’s only free-ranging herd of reindeer. The ultimate winter survival animal, reindeer could be found wild in Scotland up until the 13th century when they became extinct due to over-hunting and climate changes. Reindeer were reintroduced to the Cairngorm National Park in the 1950s and today the herd stands at around 150 reindeer.

Brighton Pier, Sussex

Starling murmurations are one of the greatest wildlife spectacles in the UK. These swirling sky dances are a mesmerising sight and can be spotted between November and March in the late afternoons, just before dusk, especially when the weather is cold.

Despite rapidly declining numbers in the UK, leading to starlings being placed on the critical birds’ list, they gather in huge numbers to roost. The number of starlings in a roost can reach up to 100,000 birds and the resulting murmurations are a sight to behold. RSPB reserves across the UK are a great place to spot starling murmurations but one of the most popular spotting places for starling murmurations is Brighton Pier in Sussex along with Gretna Green in Scotland.

One of the simplest pleasures in life is spotting wild birds in our gardens and local area and this is something we can all enjoy year-round. If you’re looking for bird feed to help you spot wild birds in winter, we have some suggestions to get you started.

Why is bird feed so important for wild birds in winter?

Colder temperatures and harsher weather conditions during the long winter months make life harder for birds. Even birds that have adapted to survive the cold UK winters can benefit from additional bird feed during winter, as their natural food sources will be in shorter supply, particularly in snowy or icy conditions.

Birds require a wide range of nutrients to survive all year round but particularly in bad weather when flying conditions are poor and birds will use more energy in their search for food, water and shelter. Extra bird feed can give wild birds the additional energy they need to make these difficult journeys.

The ‘Hungry Gap’ refers to a period of winter where seed-bearing crops are in short supply in the UK. The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) found some birds may be at risk of disappearing from the British countryside because they are struggling to find adequate food between February and April as most of the seed-bearing crop fields are ploughed at this time.

All wild birds also need fat in their diet so that they can store it to keep warm during winter, however not all fats are suitable for birds, so it’s important to choose the right type of bird feed if you want to help wild birds in winter.

Bird Feed To Help You Spot Wild Birds In Winter

Which bird feed should I choose?

We have lots of bird feed options and many contain a balance of nutrients that are suitable for year-round use. Our wild bird feed mixes use a blend of the highest quality ingredients and are the result of over 20 years of research into bird feed. This means that no matter which of the Kennedy wild bird seed mixes you choose, they can be used to support wild birds throughout the year.

We even have options for attracting specific birds to your garden, such as our Robin Bird Food, designed especially for Britain’s most popular bird and a symbol of winter.

Here are some other excellent choices of bird feed to help you spot wild birds in winter.

Superior Economy Wild Bird Seed

Our superior economy wild bird seed contains Black Sunflower Seeds which are full of essential nutrients and have a high oil content to help build healthy fat reserves and Sunflower Hearts which are highly nutritious and easy for fast feasting, making them ideal bird feed for winter. This bird feed is versatile to attract a wide variety of birds and is perfect for feeding all year round. You can use it in a seed feeder or scatter it on a bird table.

High Energy Bird Feed Premium Quality

Our high energy bird feed is blended with the highest quality seed, perfect for all small garden and farmland birds. It can be used all year round but has been specially designed to bridge the ‘hungry gap’ when food is scarce and its high energy content makes it perfect for even the coldest winter weather. This bird feed is best fed from a feeder or bird table and can also be scattered on the ground.

Suet Pellets Bird Feed Mixed Flavours

Our suet pellets bird feed is a great way to provide wild birds with high energy food. It contains a mixture of Insect Pellets, Berry Flavour Pellets and Mealworm Suet Pellets. This bird feed is designed to give wild birds a boost and help them survive in harsh weather. It can be dispensed from a suet pellet feeder all year round.

mixed suet pellets bird food

What wild birds might I spot in winter?

Once you’ve chosen your bird feed to help you spot wild birds in winter, what birds can you expect to see in your garden?

In winter, even the shyest of wild birds will be tempted to leave the safety and shelter of their usual woodlands and hedgerows to search for food in our gardens and near our homes, making them easier to spot.

Resident Starlings visit gardens year-round and you may spot even more of these sociable birds during the winter months as some migrate here from Europe for winter, arriving in autumn and staying until February or March.

The Blue Tit is a colourful garden visitor. These delicate little birds enjoy mixed bird feed, fat balls and sunflower hearts. They can be spotted in woodlands, hedges, parks and gardens across the UK.

Goldfinches have a distinctive red face and though some fly south for winter, others remain in the UK year-round. These birds are seed specialists and are particularly attracted to niger seeds.

Perhaps one of the cutest wild birds to spot in winter, Long-tailed Tits are small and fluffy. They visit bird feeders in winter when their usual choice of insects and invertebrates are in short supply. They don’t stay still for long but travel in flocks, making them easier to spot flitting from branch to branch.

You are also likely to spot common garden birds such as Wood Pigeons and House Sparrows.

Unusual birds you may be lucky enough to spot in winter include Waxwings. They don’t breed in the UK but visit during winter. These garden birds have colourful tails, and they particularly enjoy berries and are most often spotted along the East Coast.

Britain’s smallest birds, Goldcrests are naturally shy, spending most of their time in conifer forests but these tiny green and yellow birds can be found at bird tables during winter. They’re resident in the UK all year round and can be spotted across the country.

You may also be lucky enough to spot Bramblings, who typically flock in small groups. They visit the UK during winter and love mealworms. You can spot them by their distinctive orange plumage and screech-like call.

wood pigeon bird

Top tips for spotting wild birds in winter

If you’re using bird feed to help you spot wild birds in winter, make sure you keep feeding the birds throughout the winter, otherwise, they will waste precious energy returning to your bird table or feeder only to find it empty. It’s also important to supply fresh water for bathing and drinking, even when it’s snowy or rainy and to defrost frozen water if it ices over.

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There is a myth that you do not need to feed birds in the colder months as they have all migrated to warmer countries. This myth is not true, and birds still need feeding all you round.

Whilst it’s true a lot of birds do migrate to warmer countries, there are pliantly of birds that stay in the UK and in some cases, like with the robin red breast, birds migrate to the UK for the winter.

If you enjoy feeding the birds and want to continue do so even in winter, then you need to no what bird feed should you use in the colder months?

robin bird in snow

Should I Feed The Birds In Winter?

When the weather gets colder, living conditions can become very difficult for birds and other small creatures. Weather can get very cold, and condition can become treacherous, meaning birds need to be able to find a safe place to stay whilst they can’t fly.

It’s important that you not only provide food for these birds, but also give them a safe place to stay and find shelter. You can do this by providing birds with a safe place to nest. Nest boxes are a great way to help the birds that visit your garden.

Make sure the nest box is high up enough that is safe from predators but no so high it can be knocked down and harm the birds living inside. You need to nail the nest box to a sturdy surface like a stable tree or protected wall.

Birds also need access to water to survive. If you leave water out for birds, then they are more likely to come and visit so that they can drink and bathe themselves. If you have a pond or bird bath in your garden make sure the bird can easily reach it, if not then you can always leave out a bowl or dish of water as long as it is big enough for the bird to bath in.

As the weather gets colder the temperature can drop and as a result your water may freeze over. If this happens birds will not be able to drink or bath in the water. To prevent freezing you can add a tennis ball or anything that floats to the water. The constant agitation of the water should prevent it from freezing fully. You can read other tips for helping garden creatures in cold weather here.

Of course, one of the best things you can do for birds in winter is to leave food out for them. In winter trees and plants do not produce as much food as they usually do and the round can freeze or become very hard making it almost impossible for birds to dig for food.

Robin eating bird food, news advice and blog

What Bird Feed Should You Use In The Colder Months?

If you are planning to feed the birds in the colder months then it’s important you feed them the right kind of food that will help them survive in the colder, harsher weather.

Birds need lots of different nutrients to survive, but this especially true in colder months. When the weather gets bad it can be harder for birds to fly in these poor conditions and flying can be more draining for them. This is why birds need food that can help provide them with a lot of energy to help them fly and make journeys that will be more difficult now that the weather is bad.

The winter months bring other struggles for the birds, particularly when it gets to very cold temperatures. Birds need good fats in their diet that hat they can store this fat for winter and keep warm. Not all fat is good for birds however and if you are planning feeding birds’ fat to help them stay warm you are better off using a bird food specialist and feeing the bird nuts or suet.

Here at Kennedy Wild Bird Food, we have a range of food that is specially designed to help birds by giving them all the nutrients and protein that need to survive. By using a bird food specialist you can be sure that they food they you are feeing the wild birds is healthy and helpful to them and doesn’t contain any nasty or harmful chemicals.

sparrow bird on feeder

Bird watching is a great hobby to get into. It gets you outdoors, you can learn a lot about nature and because of seasonal migration the hobby can change with the seasons. Because of this there are birds that you might want to see whilst bird watching that you can only see in the colder months.

If you are planning on going bird watching in the colder months, it can be dangerous if you are not prepared. Here is how to keep warm whilst bird watching.

How To Keep Warm Whilst Bird Watching?

How To Keep Warm Whilst Bird Watching?

Check The Weather Before Hand

Before you go bird watching, be sure to check the weather conditions beforehand. That way you can plan and prepare for whatever conditions you might have to face.

If it is going to rain or snow, consider if you want to be caught out in this weather. You might prefer to wait for a day when the conditions aren’t as treacherous.

Wrap Up Warm

You should always remember to dress for the weather you are going out in. If it is going to be cold you need to wrap up warm. You also need to take into account if it will rain and remember to dress appropriately. Sitting for a long time in cold wet clothing can be dangerous so make sure to wear waterproofs if you know it will rain.

 It is a good idea to wear a lot of layers, that way you can take some off you find you are too hot. Most of our body heat is lost though the head, hands and feet so make sure these areas are covered. A good thick hat is always a good way to stay warm.

For an extra layers of heat you can also bring a blanket and wrap it round you. If you are planning to drive to your birdwatching spot, its always a good idea to have a blanker in the car wherever you go.

Take A Flask or Thermos

Take something warm to drink with you in a flask. A hot drink like tea, coffee or hot chocolate can help you get warm. Something like soup can not only keep you warm, but also help you feel full and well nourished, which will help you keep your energy up.

You can also use a thermos of hot water to fill at hot water bottle once you get to your location to help keep you warm, or you can bring hand warmers than can be activated once you are ready.

Know When To Call It A Day

Even if you prepare, wrap up warm and have a warm drink, the weather can still take a turn for the worse. If you found the weather conditions are becoming dangerous then you need to know when to call it a day and go home.

Try Bird Watching From Inside

If you find that fitting outside in the cold isn’t for you then you can always try bird watching from home.

mistle thrush bird
BGCA1N Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus in snow covered Hedgerow

How To Bird Watch At Home

Bird watching is a hobby that can be done easily from the comfort and safety of your own home. All you have to do is make a space that birds will want to visit.

Make sure that your garden has everything that a bird could possibly need. It can help if you leave a bowl of water out for them or better yet if you have a bird table or pond. If the weather get so cold the water freezes birds will not visit, so remember to adle a few tennis balls to the water so that it doesn’t freeze.

One of the best things you can do to entice birds to your garden is leave out food for them. Here at Kennedy Wild Bird Food, we have a range of bird food and bird feeding accessories. We are dedicated to make sure the birds that visit your garden are give only the best food filled with all the nutrients, calories and protein that need to survive. Some the of the wild bird food we supply includes:

Mixed Birdseed

Mealworms For Birds

Peanuts For Birds

Plain Wild Bird Seeds

Suet For Birds

Sunflower Seeds For Birds

attracting birds to your garden

At Christmas you tend to end up wit a lot of leftovers by the end. Christmas is a time where we love to gorge of food and treat ourselves to all the luxurious treats they have in store, and sadly a lot of it ends up getting wasted and thrown away.

If you have a lot of left over food from Christmas, but you don’t want to see it go to waste then you can always leave it outside for the birds and other creatures that come to visit your garden, be aware though, there are a lot of food that can cause harm to birds and make them ill. This is what is important that you know what Christmas treats can birds eat?

Here are some of the Christmas treats birds and cannot eat.

robin bird in snow

Birds Can Eat:

There are a lot of foods birds can eat and many of them can be found in your own kitchen cupboards. birds are strong and resilient creatures and that can eat a lot of things you would expect them to.

Some of the food’s birds can eat incudes:

Cheese

If you have left over cheese from Christmas, then you can leave it out for birds.

Bread

Bread is very good for birds and it is perfectly safe for them to eat in small doses. Any crusts or stale bread can be left out for them.

Fat

Birds need fat to survive, especially in winter. birds need to eat good fat so that they can stay warm in the winder. If you have any cooking fat left in your roasting tin after Christmas you can scrape it off and leave it out for birds. birds shouldn’t be given too much shalt however, so bacon fat or salted meat can be harmful to them.

Potatoes

Everybody loves a potato at Christmas dinner. Roast boiled or mashed potatoes are often the star of the Christmas dinner for some people. If you happen to have any left after everyone had finished eating, you can leave them out for birds as potatoes are perfectly fine for birds to eat.

Fruit

Fruit is extremely healthy and good for birds to eat. Fruit contains a lot of good healthy nutrients and is high in the sugar birds need to fly. Birds can eat almost any fruit, include fruit that is damaged or rotten. So, if you find some old fruit that you can’t eat anymore, try leaving it out for the birds.

Pastry

Whilst it’s not the healthiest thing for birds to eat, pastry still contains some of the nutrients they need, and pastry is perfectly safe for them to eat. So, any mince pies that have gone uneaten and stale can be left for birds.

Also remember that although these foods are safe for birds, they might not be safe other animals, including your pets. Make sure to place the food on a high surface like a bird table or the roof so that only birds can get to them.

sparrow birds on bread basket

Birds Can Not Eat:

Although birds are tough and cleaver creatures that have to eat what they can in the wild, there are a few food stuffs that they cannot eat. Be careful when feeding birds scraps as some of the food may be toxic to birds and can cause them some serious harm. some if the foods birds can’t eat include:

Chocolate

Like with most animals’ chocolate is harmful to birds. If birds eat chocolate, it can make them seriously ill so make sure you don’t leave any where they can find it.

Salt

Birds do need some salt to survive, just like we do, but they only need a small amount. Birds will easily find the amount of salt they need out in the wild and if you leave out salty food for them it might end up being to much for them.

Before you leave anything out for them like fat or peanuts, make sure they are not so high in salt that it will harm the bird.

Alcohol

At Christmas time a lot of food contains alcohol so something that might be ok for birds to eat normally might not be if they are soaked in alcohol. It only takes a small about of alcohol to make birds sick and they can easily get alcohol poisoning if they eat alcohol food or take a drink from an alcoholic beverage that has been left outside.

Onions

Foods like onions and garlic can thin the blood and this can be dangerous for birds. Whilst it’s ok to let birds have a little bit of onion, it’s best not to give them to many or they could become ill. After you have done preparing all the veg it’s perfectly safe to leave the ends and peels out for the birds, just keep an eye out for too much onion.

blue tit with popular bird feed of sunflower seeds

 

It’s winter which means the weather is getting colder and harsher. when the weather gets bad, it can be hard for birds, especially small garden birds, to keep warm and safe in the conditions.

You can help birds this winter by making sure they have a place to stay that is warm and dry, and you can do this by putting a nest box in your garden, however, you need to be aware of how nest boxes can be affected in winter and winter nest box care.

What is a Bird Nest Box?

A bird nest box is a small birdhouse, often made of wood or plastic, that will make an ideal place for a garden bird to make its home. You can purchase a birds nest box or make one your own and place it in your garden for a bird to come and make your garden its new home.

A bird net box can be a huge help for birds in winter. In winter, a lot of trees lose their foliage and because of this, there is less coverage in trees and bushes for birds meaning they are exposed to the cold elements. With a birds nest box, the birds in your garden can have access to a warm sheltered place that will be safe for them in winter, but if you are planning on putting up a birds nest box this winter, then you need to know about birds nest box care.

nuthatch bird on nestbox

Winter Bird Nest Box Care

Make sure the bird’s nest box is clean and sanitary. If it is a brand new box then it should be ok, but it is quite an old one then you might want to give it a quick clean with some hot soapy water.

Birds feel safer the higher up they are so it’s a good idea to place the bird box around 10 feet above the ground. Make sure that you nail the bird box down and place it in a place it is going to be safe, like a sturdy tree or on a protected wall. This is because winds can get quite bad in winter and bird boxes can get blown loose if they are not nailed down properly.

Prepare the box for winter. A lot of bird boxes are well ventilated and have air holes all over so that the box does not overheat in summer. In winter this is not an issue, and you might be better filling in or blocking the holes so that the birds are protected from the cold whilst they are in the box.

blue tit bird and nest box

What Should I feed The Birds in Winter?

Winter can be a tough time for birds as the temperature can drop to seriously low levels and it can be hard for them to find food and stay warm.

This is why it is important to make sure that you leave food out for the birds that visit your garden and more importantly that you use flood that is going to help the birds survive the winter.

Here at Kennedy Wild Birds Food, we have a range of food, specially designed for birds and to help them get the protein and nutrients they need to survive.

Mixed Birdseed

Here at Kennedy Wild Bird Feed, we have a variety of mixed birds seeds available. our bags of mixed birds’ seeds are specially designed to give birds all the energy and protein that need.

Mealworms For Birds

Some birds prefer easting insects, like mealworms, over birds’ seeds. That’s we sell both dried and live mealworms for birds so that the bird that visits your garden can have food that suits their natural diet.

Peanuts For Birds

Peanuts have all the good fats and proteins that birds need to stay strong healthy especially in the colder months. Remember, peanuts from regular shops often have flavourings and coating that are unsafe for birds, so always go to a bird food specialist when buying peanuts for birds.

Plain Wild Bird Seeds

Here at Kennedy Wild Bird Feed, we have a wide variety of different seeds for you to choose from. Our plain wild bird seeds are perfect for any bird that is visiting your garden and will help keep them happy, healthy and well-fed throughout the winter months.

Suet For Birds

Our range of suet products are the perfect thing to leave out for the birds as the weather gets colder. suet is full of fat which birds need to store and keep warm in the winter.

Sunflower Seeds For Birds

Sunflower seeds are possibly the healthiest thing you can feed the birds that come to your garden. They have a soft shell that the birds will need to break through, which is great for strengthening their beak. If the birds that come to your garden are little on the small side and don’t have the strength or power to break the shells, then you can buy sunflower hearts. Sunflower hearts are just the meaty insides of the sunflower seed that have all the good proteins and necessary calories that birds need to stay strong and healthy all year round.

big garden bird watch results