A walk on the wild side, through the seasons – Winter
Wrapped up against the elements there is nothing better than catching some fresh air on a cold and crisp winter’s day. Head out on the nature trails around Humble Bee farm and you will come across some of the amazing wildlife that makes the farm their home.
Start first at the bird hide; creeping quietly up the slope and taking up position in the shelter of the wooden hide. Pick a slot at your height and look out for the many hedgerow birds that come and feed on the bird feeders hanging on the branches just outside the hide. This was one of the many conservation tasks that families have taken part in whilst staying at Humble Bee farm, helping provide extra great habitats for the farm’s wildlife. The small hedgerow birds will gather in the tops of the hawthorn and blackthorn bushes to your left, before they come onto the feeders. Look out for tree sparrows and house sparrows with their brown, cream and black striped backs. The tree sparrows have a lovely brown head and white faces with a very prominent black cheek spot, whereas the male house sparrows have a grey crown and have a dusky coloured face and a black bib under their chin; females are less colourful on their heads and lack the black bib. Both species are a rarity in many parts of the country but do very well on the farm. Keep an eye out for the beautiful yellowhammer, another bird of the hedgerow, again it has a brown streaky back but as its name suggests it has yellow plumage which in winter can be seen on its head.
From the bird hide head up the path alongside the barn and to the top of the slope where you will get some lovely views across the Wolds, the fields dotted with small pieces of the white limestone, the rock which makes up the Wolds. In amongst the ploughed furrows try to catch a glimpse of a hare, hunkered down between the rows. Hares, unlike rabbits do not live underground but they can often be difficult to see as they are very well camouflaged against the brown earth. If one gets startled, you will see it hurtle off at an alarming rate; they can reach top speeds of 30mph!
Wandering back down the path, look for the red berries of the hawthorn which provide essential winter food for birds and small mammals. You might notice the ivy that is entangled around some of the branches, look carefully and you can spot tiny clusters of white flowers. Spiders and insects like to live amongst the leaves and the flowers provide nectar for late bees and moths. Down at the bottom of the hedge you will find groups of snails, their openings sealed up for the winter. They hibernate in order to survive the cold weather, so finding a safe, dry spot, out of the wind at the bottom of the hedge is ideal.
Luckily after a short walk we can head back to our warm homes!
Yorkshire Coast Nature