The long dark days of winter can seem foreboding at the best of times and when you add in the challenging year we’ve all had the temptation to follow the lead of the dormice and hedgehogs and find somewhere safe to hibernate until spring seems rather tempting.
However, the winter months can be a really special time to connect with nature and with a little planning and creatively there’s no need to shut yourself indoors until the warmer months arrive.
One of the simplest things you can do to let nature into your life is to plan a trip to a nature reserve or park with a friend or loved one. Whilst there are signs that there may be glimmers of hope on the horizon thanks to the roll out of the new vaccine, it is likely that the safest way to meet up with friends in the months ahead will be to meet them outdoors – and where better that a stunning natural greenspace where you can take in the views and benefit from the fresh air.
If you want to take things a step further than a simple walk, why not get up early and watch a sunrise or head to a favourite scenic spot with a flask of something hot or otherwise warming and catch the sunset. When out and about why not get out your phone and photograph the frost or fascinating fungi. If you want a truly magical experience of nature find out where you can enjoy a starling murmuration locally or keep an eye out for a local roost where you can stand in awe as thousands of rooks, crows and jackdaws gather noisily before gathering to spend the night.
Back at home you could simply choose to watch wildlife from your window or perhaps invest in a new feeder or nest box for your feathered friends – the list of options is endless.
As well as actively doing something to connect with the natural world, you could tune in to nature by switching off your gadgets and taking a break from social media for 24 hrs. A tech detox, where you simply let nature in could be just what you need after a challenging year.
If 2020 was a year when you’ve discovered a new passion for nature or rediscovered your love of old haunts having sought solace by visiting natural greenspaces, why not commit to fundraise for wildlife in 2021 or to seek out volunteering to give something back to nature? As you plan for the year ahead you could also create a ‘wild’ bucket list – adding all the places you want to visit and the wild species you’re determined to see in 2021 and beyond.
Winter wildlife is out there waiting to be discovered and nature reserves, parks and gardens are ripe for exploration – you just need to wrap up warm to be sure of an uplifting experience.
Your wild acts this winter could be little things that help nature, such as recycling your Christmas tree to starting to feed the birds in your garden for the first time or planting a tree to absorb carbon and create habitat for wildlife.
Whatever you choose to do, don’t let the winter pass you by. There is a wild world out there full of joys and experiences that will warm your heart – no matter how low the temperature drops or how short the days.
In no time, spring will be around the corner but don’t wait until then to get your wild fix.
We’re also delighted that our car park at Idle Valley Nature Reserve is now back open and we’re currently working to reopen the café, shop and reception. However, to be able to do this we need more volunteer support so, if you would like to help us welcome visitors to this stunning nature reserve this winter, get in touch via www.nottinghamshirewildlife.org/volunteer
Details of all Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust sites across the county including the spectacular Idle Valley Nature Reserve near Retford and the ever popular Attenborough Nature Reserve south of Nottingham as well as events and campaigns can be found at www.nottinghamshirewildlife.org