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February 2023 News

An update from Lindy – our Tour Guide Manager and Conservationist

The depths of winter and statistically the coldest month of the year in the UK, February seems a long way from Spring and Summer, but it can also change from sub zero temperatures to much milder conditions within 24 hours and is challenging for nature and wildlife.

As you walk the Estate, you will notice our vines are still in their slumber and winter pruning is ongoing until ready for the season ahead. The valuable nutrients and carbohydrates are being stored in the trunk and roots, ready to energise the vines when they awake.

Meanwhile in the woodlands and meadows, as this month proceeds, there will be signs of new life very slowly emerging. Squirrels will be
birthing their young – kittens – and their litters can comprise 4 or occasionally 6. Some build dreys in the forks of trees and often these
can be spotted, particularly when the trees are bare in winter. These large domed shapes are very high up although in our ancient woodland many squirrels prefer to live in holes in the older trees.

Blue tits and other seed feeders are searching for a suitable warm site for nest construction. They are very industrious and are well ahead of the breeding season, our bird boxes are clearly visible along the woodland trails and will eventually be occupied.

Our badgers are snuggled down in their setts, reserving energy and although not technically hibernating, they may not venture out for several months. This resting will result in a decrease in body temperature which conserves fuel and uses less of their fat reserves when food is scarce.

It is worth looking for deer tracks and droppings which are visible in the frost and snow. All of these trails will lead to food sourcesat this time of year as this species are also going through a quietperiod and  as naturally shy creatures they will remain hidden in
woodland where no camouflage is available in February.
In our wodlands we have primroses, wood anemones and bluebells to name but a few and within the next few months you will see them start to emerge from the woodland floor.

After all this exercise, time to return to The View for a welcome drink and perhaps a platter and reflect on all that nature in February has to offer.

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