The move into the cold and wet winter months has seen some of our wildlife go into hibernation and seek shelter for the winter – for example, bats, dormice and an array of butterfly species. However, our lakes are still bursting with wildlife to spot throughout the winter season.

The birds that live around our lakes are a huge part of our sightings in the winter, and they come in all shapes, sizes and colours. Hundreds of birds can be spotted on our lakes but here are some of our favourites…

The grey heron is a regular at almost all of our sites, but despite its size can be tricky to spot. These herons do not migrate and can be seen at any time of year – often in shallow water or in vegetation looking for food – for example, fish.

Brendan Colm O’Brien

By contrast, the little egret is a striking white heron, which you are most likely to see playing and feeding from streams and around the water’s edge. Head to Lopwell Dam to spot these!

Robert Reynolds

The robin is a much-loved UK favourite which can be seen all year round at all of the lakes. These friendly birds can be seen and heard throughout the day. Another is the kingfisher: a small and mysterious bird, which is sometimes tricky to spot. One of the most colourful species around our lakes, they are often sitting patiently in trees which overhang the water. They can pause here for long periods of time and sometimes move only short distances to feed and find another perch.

Jacky Pearce (left), Martin Langran (right)

The little owl can be seen during the day, often perched on tree stumps, keeping an eye on its surroundings. You are most likely to see this owl during an evening stroll at sunset or an early morning walk at sunrise. This owl flies and hunts over open areas and hedgerows for small mammals and birds, with an unmistakable call which often sounds playful. This is one of the toughest of the owl family to spot on our lakes, but presents a great opportunity for those who enjoy a challenge.

Brendan Colm O’Brien

Other birdlife to look out for might include lapwing and snipe, as well as non-waders such as goldfinches. There are also likely to be mixed flocks of small birds about feeding on berries, winter migrant waders and waterfowl!

A few starling murmurations have also been spotted at Wimbleball and Crowdy – always a breathtaking sight!

Turning to plants and other wildlife…

Many mushrooms and fungi die as the autumn comes to the end; however, there are still a few that you can glimpse over the winter. The jelly ear fungus can be found all year round and is likely to be on all of our sites on fallen trees and branches. This fungus takes after its name with a jelly-like feel and the structure of an ear.

Jacky Pearce

Turkey tail (a type of bracket fungus) and velvet shank mushrooms are not destroyed by frost and can also be spotted throughout the winter and into the spring months.

The snowdrop is one of the earliest flowering plants found in the woodland and can be seen as early as January at many of our sites. This could be one of the only flowers visible over the winter months, with a lovely white bell-shaped flower. Spot them at Wimbleball, Roadford and Siblyback.

Jacky Pearce

If we have a snowfall deeper into winter, turn detective and try to guess the animal responsible for leaving footprints in the snow! This picture shows the tracks of a blackbird. They are great to see early in the morning before they melt away. The early bird catches the worm, after all!

Jacky Pearce

We would love to hear if you spot any of the wildlife mentioned here, and even any other interesting animals or plants. If you are unsure about the wildlife you have spotted at one of our sites, take a clear photo and let our knowledgeable team know so we can try to help you identify it.

Finally, keep your eyes peeled for…

-Red, roe and fallow deer

These photos have been sent in from the generous wildlife photographers Robert Reynolds, Martin Langran and Brendan Colm O’Brien and many from our talented volunteer Jacky Pearce.