Winter woodlands

Through the seasons

Winter woodlands

Beech woodland in winter mist (Fagus sylvatica) with hoar frost, West Woods, Compton Abbas, Dorset, England, UK - Guy Edwardes/2020VISION

The hidden life of winter woods

Winter woodlands can be a magical place. The low winter sun casts long shadows and the golden light is cut by stark bare trees. However the woods are far from silent and signs of the season to come can be found if you look closely.

Hibernating bugs and insects will be hidden away under log piles and leaf-litter or inside the hollow stems of dead plants and seedcases. The green shoots of snowdrops may be peaking out of the ground in sheltered spots, whilst bare trees may be crowned with mistletoe or indispersed with vibrant green holly bushes with bright red berries.

You might hear the drumming of woodpeckers during the day or hoot of tawny owls at night, and glistening clumps of frogspawn may also already be floating in woodland ponds and pools.

What to listen out for

Winter is the best time to listen out for tawny owls, woodpeckers and foxes as this is their courtship season. Listen out for the drumming of the great-spotted woodpecker amongst the trees, the howl of the red fox and the famous 'twit-twoo' call of the tawny owl, actually made up of a 'ke-wick' sound from a female and an answering 'hoo-hoo-ooo' from a male.