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Forget me not by Chris Lawrence

Wildlife on your doorstep

[lead]February can sometimes be the harshest winter month, but nonetheless you can still spot a few signs of spring starting to appear.[/lead]

Snowdrops peeking through frozen ground are a pretty promise of better things to come, and the dawn chorus is getting longer and more strident as birds begin to strut their stuff in hopes of attracting a mate. It’s a good time to put up nest boxes (or clean out old ones), and keep feeding any garden visitors you may have.

A walk through woodland reserves like Moss Valley may yield the sight of the first primroses in sheltered spots. While hazel trees are putting out their catkins look out for the tiny red stigma of pollen receptors on female trees. A walk round Crabtree Ponds could reward you with sight of frog spawn, and a wetland wander along Salmon Pastures or Centenary Riverside may result in grebes, kingfishers and wagtails; they’re much easier to spot with reduced winter foliage!

It’s also the time of year when your thoughts might turn to what you want to plant in your garden for the year ahead. If you’re over 50, get a head start on making your garden a wildlife wonderland this year by coming along to the Wildlife Gardening sessions at Trust HQ. Our Wild at Heart team will guide you through the practicalities and advise you on gardening techniques. The first one takes place on Friday 2nd, 10am-12pm.

If you’d like to know more about how we manage our reserves, ask questions and get involved in shaping their future, join in with one of the Reserve Advisory Groups. They are a great way to find out about your local nature reserve and how it is managed. The next one is Friday 15th, 7pm-9pm at the Wharncliffe Side Community Centre, for Carr House Meadows. Local residents and people with an interest in the site are all welcome to attend.

Half term is not far away now, but don’t panic; we’ve got a great way to keep your children entertained. Our Ecclesall Woods Wild Play sessions are hosted by the Trust’s outdoor learning team and are designed for families with young children who want to get out and explore the woods! There are three sessions to choose from: Tuesday 20th, 10am-12pm and 1pm-3pm; or Wednesday 21st, 10am-12pm. These popular sessions fill up quickly so book yours online now to make sure you don’t miss out.

We couldn’t manage our reserves without the wonderful volunteers who quite literally lend us a hand! Volunteer Work Days are an opportunity to join one of our projects, spending the day doing practical conservation work. They are a great way to help us look after our fantastic nature reserves, as well as get some healthy exercise and meet some wonderful people! This month we are at Moss Valley Woodlands Thursday 1st, Blacka Moor Saturday 3rd and Thursday 15th, Crabtree Ponds Monday 5th, Wyming Brook & Fox Hagg Tuesday 6th, Centenary Riverside Monday 12th, Woodhouse Washlands Friday 16th, Greno Woods Friday 23rd, and Sunnybank Wednesday 28th.

Everyone is welcome, no experience is needed and we will provide equipment and training. Come along for the whole day or just for an hour or two! So get out there; hug a tree, feed the birds or show your passion with the gift of your time. Make February the month you fall in love with the wildlife on your doorstep!

Don’t forget to show us what you’re doing out there; share your wild adventures with us on social media – we love to see your wild life!

You can find out more details about all our events and workshops by visiting our events page or email for more information about volunteering on your local reserve.