Poor, old February. Often thought of as the month of despair. However, there are a surprising number of treats to look out for and enjoy even in these dark, dreary days of winter. Scratch beneath the surface and there is life everywhere. Days are lengthening and there is a smell of spring and new beginnings in the air, so dig out the wellies and thermals and go on a new walk. Find a cracking pub at the end. Happy days.
Plants and flowers
Snowdrops and crocuses take centre stage in February and signal the end of winter. Often clustered en masse around the base of trees, they create a gorgeous white carpet to admire. They can be found in most places but for top floral satisfaction, visit a garden that is blooming with them. Try the National Gardens Scheme, which has over 80 gardens full of winter flowers, or the National Trust. Scotland even dedicates a national festival to snowdrops.
Eagle eyes may spot the first pale yellow primroses at vergeway edges, in woodland or on cliffs. Another sunny plant is the winter aconite, tiny and golden, with cheerful buttercup flowers. The magical magnolia tree is also ready to burst into bloom late February onwards.
Other plants to search out are hazel catkins, which are just opening out now, eager for spring pollination, and for a christmassy vibe, look for holly, ivy and mistletoe. Winter nuts and berries also give a burst of colour and are fun to search out.
Robins, of course. The UK’s favourite bird, according to the RSPB. Plus there are plenty of other birds to look for like sparrows, blue tits, chaffinches and greenfinches about in February along with blackbirds, thrushes, starlings, redwings, fieldfares and waxwings.
In woodland, listen out for great spotted woodpeckers, who can be heard hammering away at their chosen tree. Look up and you may see a sparrowhawk or buzzard circling, to establish their territory for the year. And by water’s edges you may be lucky enough to see a kingfisher. Many winter-visiting birds can be seen in wetlands and estuaries. Swans, ducks and waders are all easy to spot. Lapwings are out and about on the UK coastline in February.
February is the month to find frog and toad spawn in ponds. Frog spawn is found in shallow water, and toad spawn is found in deeper water.
On sunny days the first bumblebees might venture out. Or if it’s muddy or snowing, look for animal tracks in the ground. Deer, fox and badger tracks are easier to spot in the winter months.