Hazel catkins Creative commons image Credit: larces under CC-BY-SA licence Hazel catkins

Do one thing

Plant a wildlife friendly shrub or tree. Hawthorn, blackthorn, guelder rose and field maple provide food, nesting sites and cover for small mammals and birds.

What to look for

Snow, rain, hail and sun make January an unpredictable month. Hazel catkins blow in the breeze pollinating the tiny crimson female flowers and snowdrops spill out of copses.

On lakes and reservoirs, rafts of winter wildfowl include pochard, tufted ducks, mallard, and wigeon. Mistle thrushes sing from treetops on gusty days and over reed-beds and shrubberies; huge flocks of starlings swirl in the evenings.

It is fox breeding season and on still evenings you may hear the unearthly scream of a vixen calling to attract a mate. Roe deer, fallow deer and muntjac are easier to see with the trees bare of leaves, especially early in the morning or late afternoon.

Insect life may seem hard to find, but droneflies, which mimic bees, bask in the winter sun. Look under logs for invertebrates such as woodlice and centipedes, but don’t forget to replace logs as you find them. On elder trees look for the dull purple ear fungus, which looks and feels like a clammy human ear!

Did you know

The mountain hare’s coat turns white between December and March. The Peak District, including the National Trust’s Derwent Valley and Kinder Scout, has seen a steady increase in the mountain hare population, but numbers are declining in Snowdonia and Scotland.

Habitat of the month: Coasts

When all is quiet inland you can be sure of plenty of activity on the seashore.

Seaweeds grow all year and marine snails don’t hibernate so now is a good time to head to the coast and look in rock-pools around Britain. Padstow, January 2011 Creative commons image Credit: ennor under CC-BY-NC-SA licence Padstow

Photo opportunity: Coastal scenes

The days are short but dramatic scenes are waiting for the hardy.

Try using a wide-angle lens to take in the big picture. A polarising filter can make the scene come to life by increasing contrast and picking out cloud formations.

Month-by-month