As my granddad used to say, “the nights are fair draw’n in”. As I write this at 4pm it’s already dark outside and the tail end of a winter storm is blowing freezing rain through the town. But before I complain, perhaps I should spare a thought for the wildlife which is enduring the same conditions but doesn’t get to come in out of the cold and put the kettle on!

A frosty Cumbernauld Glen

People are sometimes surprised to find out bats and hedgehogs are the only mammals that really hibernate through the winter in Scotland. For most daily life must go on. Many will already be planning for the new year – foxes right now are beginning to find and defend territory, preparing for cubs in Spring. This is the peak time for foxes mating – and for mistaken but well-meaning calls to the police as people hear their eerie calls and mistake them for human screams.

Badgers mate all year round but practice delayed implantation. This means no matter when they were conceived young don’t begin to develop in the womb until December. Badgers do slow down, their main food source – earthworms – is hard to come by in the frozen ground, so they spend the coldest nights resting underground.

It can be a tough time for deer too, unable to find enough food over the winter many will starve to death. They’re also feeling vulnerable as much of the woodland vegetation cover they rely on for camouflage is gone, so it’s especially important at this time that we make sure we – and our dogs – don’t disturb them as they forage in the woodlands.

At Cumbernauld Living Landscape we often look for signs of winter wildlife on our Wild Ways Well and volunteer sessions, if you’d like to join us find out more on our website or our Facebook page.

Paul Barclay

Community Networks Officer

Paul Barclay