The “beast from the east” hit with a vengeance last week leaving huge amounts of snow and freezing temperatures in its wake.

We were just starting to get the first reports of bumblebees and hedgehogs coming out of hibernation in the week leading up to it so for those individuals there are some hard days ahead. They will face a race between energy reserves running out and the weather improving.

Brambling at feeder © Paul Barclay

Many birds have been heralding spring too, pairing up, singing, even prospecting for nests. Over a cold spell like this breeding will be a lower priority than the struggle for survival. Many birds are dependent on people providing them with food and its especially important not to forget our feathered friends when the weather turns.

On the upside, weather events like this are a great chance to see something different. Pay close attention to the birds in your garden and you might catch sight of something unusual. I’ve seen bramblings and reed buntings regularly mixed in with the usual chaffinches and sparrows.

The differences can be subtle so they’re easy to miss but try to take notice of the different colours on each bird and you might see something new.

Snowy woodland in Cumbernauld © Paul Barclay
Snowy woodland in Cumbernauld © Paul Barclay

If there’s snow on the ground, it’s also a great opportunity to check out who has been visiting your garden. Have a look for the tracks in the snow and you might be surprised!

As well as the usual cats and dogs there might be hedgehogs, foxes or even badgers foraging in the night. Look out for mice tracks, sometimes you can even make out the marks made by their little tails and you can see the huge leaps they make to cover ground while avoiding walking in the snow!

If you’ve seen anything unusual leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.

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Paul Barclay