Despite being the coldest and darkest time of the year, thereís a wonderland of wildlife experiences waiting to be had during the winter months - so wrap up your young ones in preparation for their wildest winter yet!
Grab your gloves, pull on your wellies and immerse yourselves in The Wildlife Trustsí brrr-illiant route to spending time with nature this Christmas. My Wild Winter is an online wildlife and activity guide jam-packed with ideas and information, complemented by places to go and things to do. All will help families to explore nature and wild places, at home or on days out over the festive period. Thereís also a reading list from which young readers can choose some great nature-inspired books - perfect for curling up in comfy chairs over Christmas.
Exploring nature at a young age can bring a lifetime of pleasure and winter offers a multitude of wildlife experiences to be had Ė build a shelter for yourself and a nest box for a bird, muck about with snow, ice and in the dark and identify wildlife from the tracks and signs they leave behind. Look out for deer, foxes, rabbits and different types of bird prints.
My Wild Winter activity guide is our free downloadable guide to wildlife, habitats and activities to look out for and try this winter. It includes:
Places to go
Our nature reserves are great places to visit all year round, with loads to see and do in winter. Try a frozen wetland for a chance to see secretive bitterns. Be amazed by flocks of winter waders at the coast. Explore a woodland under snow and look for fox and badger footprints. And donít forget to stop at one of our cafťs to warm up afterwards!
Things to do
The Wildlife Trusts across the UK run hundreds of events every year, from guided walks and talks to bat detecting, bird ringing and photography courses. There are also hundreds of regular children's groups where young ones and families can try pond dipping, wild camping and much more! Browse our events calendar to find an activity taking place near you and explore our interactive map which contains more than 200 regular children's groups across the UK.
Ducks, geese and swans all visit the UK in winter. Look out for large flocks of migratory geese, especially at the coast, and starling Ďmurmurationsí where hundreds of birds swoop through the sky together before settling down to roost for the night. Tick off the wildlife you see this winter with our spotting sheets. They may help to identify different species or you may like to challenge yourself to find different kinds. Thereís a wide choice to choose from here, including a special winter spotting sheet.
Ever wanted to try plaster casting or discover animal tracks and signs? Need a bird feeder or nest box and would like to make your own? Fancy creating your own ice decorations? Try our easy-to-use guides for loads of winter nature activities here.
Help winter wildlife by making your own bird food and feeder Ė watch these great videos from nature nut Nick Baker and heíll show you how.
Nick said: ďOn frosty mornings, wrap up warm - don thick socks and woolly hats Ė and head out on a bracing birdwatching walk. Bird movements can be seen pretty much anywhere we care to look in winter, from the nut feeder to the wild open estuaries. Winter can be bleak but it can also be beautiful and thereís something about the sharp sometimes biting air which is so invigorating! When youíre home, warm up with a hot chocolate, then bake a bird cake and watch the garden birds come to you. Prepare a feast and watch them flock in!Ē
Follow and share tips and inspiration on twitter and facebook using the hashtag #wildwinterdays.
As part of My Wild Winter, The Wildlife Trusts are running a competition to win a break at Center Parcs. Everyone who takes action for wildlife between Fri 19 Dec and Sat 31 Jan 2015 - whether itís making bird feeders, providing water for garden wildlife or putting up a nest box Ė could be in with a chance of winning the break, just by sharing a picture via facebook, twitter or instagram using #wildwintersdayscomp. Visit www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildwinterdays for details.