February with Durham Wildlife Trust

Karen Forster News

Get involved with nature in February with Durham Wildlife Trust.

This ‘February what’s on guide’ has been collated by DWT Volunteer, Karen Forster.


It’s February, whilst the cold winds blow and we’re still in with a chance of snow, we’re thankfully one step closer to spring.

Although several weeks away, the first signs of spring appear.  The days are longer, the birdsong stronger and those that have slept through winter begin to stir.

Whilst many surviving birds struggle, as autumn’s abundance of berries and seeds dwindle further, many break out into song and flaunt their superiority with courtship displays.  Whilst they may still be a harsh chill, love is in the air and there’s plenty of dancing to get things warmed up and moving.

The water ballet of pairs of great crested grebes can be spotted on larger lakes and ponds, we’re hoping they’ll arrive at our Rainton Meadows Nature Reserve again this year.  See if you can spot them wooing each other with the not-so-romantic gift of waterweed.  If you’re a heron addict, look out for the punks standing on their spindly legs, stretching their long necks, pointing their bills to the sky and showing off their plumage.  Stepping outside the bird kingdom, badgers are past that awkward courting stage, as many give birth to cubs this month.  You may see them popping out their setts on the lookout for new bedding.

In plant life, green buds are shooting up all over, a sign that things are looking up and there are brighter days ahead.  The delicate white snowdrops spread (head to Hawthorn Dene), hazel catkins open out into golden tassels (head to Hesleden Dene), and winter aconite provide us with a sunny dash of yellow – a glimpse of the cheer that all those daffodil buds will bring when they begin to flower.

With all this song, dance and new life to see, let’s get out and enjoy watching winter turn to spring. Here’s how together we can share our love of wildlife this February.

We start the month with a talk which will really pull at the heartstrings.  On Wednesday 1st February, Middleton St George Wildlife Group are joined by a speaker from The League Against Cruel Sports at Middleton St George W.I. Hut who will explain how they protect animals at risk from sporting activities.

On Thursday 2nd it’s World Wetlands Day, drop into Rainton Meadows bird hide between 10-12 and a guide will be there to share not only their knowledge but our scopes for a clearer picture of what the birds are up to this month.

On Saturday 4th, we’re sharing our love for protecting the planet with the Wildlife Watch Group at Low Barns.  They will learn how to make their lives greener, from reducing their carbon footprint to recycling and upcycling.  On the evening at Rainton Meadows the Durham Astronomical Society will be peering through their telescopes to see what’s written in the stars.  Join them for a free moon watch.

The DWT Botany Group on Sunday 5th will be at Low Barns Nature Reserve, providing a three hour training session to help beginners learn to identify common trees.  They’ll be checking out the forms and shapes of trees this time of year.  For those further north, the session will also be held on Saturday 11th at Rainton Meadows.

On Saturday 11th we will be building our own Love Nests at Low Barns ready for National Nest Box Week which runs from the 14-19th and, more importantly, ready for our lovebirds to settle into.  Souter Lighthouse is also getting all twitchy and crafty this month with a whole week of bird activities planned.

At Durham Fire Station on Tuesday 14th, the Durham Bird Club are providing an illustrated talk on the status of Durham’s ring ouzel.  It will draw on recent studies and fieldwork undertaken by the speaker, which has involved recording details of their nesting behaviour and breeding success.  For those more interested in lovecats than birds on Valentine’s Day the Gateshead Wildlife Group will be joined in Low Fell by a local wildlife expert, who will be explaining about the land of the Jaguar – so wonderfully wonderfully wonderfully pretty!

To end the month, we have two more bird related events.  On Saturday 18th Love Birds is being held at Rainton Meadows, a guided talk and walk around the reserve, suitable for not only couples but individuals and families too.  Finally, on Saturday 25th we’ll be showing you how to rustle up a tasty meal to take home for your feathered friends – a belated valentine’s treat.

Karen Forster

Karen volunteers with Durham Wildlife Trust, collating monthly roundups and highlighting opportunities to get out and to enjoy our region's wildlife. Karen enjoys long fast walks along country lanes, coastal paths or hiding away from it all in a bird hide. Animal lover, guinea pig owner and bass guitar player for two indie bands, Karen lives in Gateshead and works as a business development lead for an architectural practice.