SPECIES TO LOOK OUT FOR
Mottled reddish-brown and with a ring of dark feathers surrounding a paler face containing dark-coloured eyes, surely there is no mistaking the commonest of all British owls. Traditionally a woodland species, tawny owls have colonised any town and city centres with large parks, gardens and churchyards as they hold their territory through the winter months.
Our only pied bird with a long tail, which it constantly bobs, the pied wagtail is a familiar visitor to towns and cities during the winter months. On the constant search for invertebrates, males defend a winter territory before then gathering at favoured urban locations to communally roost for the night.
This dumpy slate-grey waterbird with a white bill and forehead is a common sight across any town and city park with a decent-sized pond or lake. In winter, coots gather together on the larger water bodies, with populations in southern and eastern England often boosted by continental coots from across the North Sea.
Is there a more unmistakable wild animal in our towns and cities? Probably not. Only moving into our urban areas during the inter-war period, leafy suburbs and public parks proved the ideal habitat for this canny opportunist. Most often spotted at dawn and dusk, winter is when the blood-curdling screams are heard, which signal the start of the breeding season.
A wonderfully familiar sight, with its scalloped wing edgings and distinctive markings, the ‘small tort’ is one of a select group of butterflies to regularly overwinter in the UK as an adult. Often choosing roofs, outhouses and other human habitations to see out the winter, the camouflaged underwings of a hibernating adult in an unheated park shelter can often be tricky to spot.
Tortoiseshells hibernate in unheated park buildings.