Family friendly things to do this winter

We're pulling on our Waterproof Puddlebuster trousers, warmest hats and mittens and heading out on a WILD winter walk!

With top advice from our friends at The Cornwall Wildlife Trust on what to spot whilst you are stomping through the leaves, join us as we explore a winter wonderland and get our feet muddy!     Learn how to build a bird box, a hedgehog house or a pond in a pot and read about the best thing to feed the birds that visit your garden. Hear about how Frugi's donations have helped marine life in Cornwall and enter our fab competition to WIN a Puddlebuster outfit and a family membership to your local Wildlife Trust!  
We've got everything your little ones need to stay warm and dry this winter!
From adventure ready outerwear made from recycled plastic bottles to super cosy hats and mittens, Frugi gear can stand up to all weathers!
So don't let a bit of mizzle spoil your fun, wrap up warm and let's get out there!

Let's get spotting winter wildlife!

Cheryl is Head of Conservation at Cornwall Wildlife Trust and oversees the Trust’s work outside of its own nature reserves. This involves projects and initiatives to support landowners, farmers and fishermen to operate in ways that allow nature’s recovery and empowering local communities to take positive action for wildlife. Cheryl has a particular interest in re-wilding and how it could work in Cornwall and has been fortunate to be involved in the Cornwall Beaver Project since its beginnings.

 

" In winter the shorter days and unpredictable weather mean it can be harder to fit in outdoor time, but with some forward planning there is no need for us to go into hibernation! Check the weather forecast a few days before the weekend and plan in some walks to make the most of dry spells. Whether you visit woods, hills, rivers and lakes or your local park there will be winter wildlife to discover.

Winter is a great time to see our resident birds- those that stay and tough out the winter instead of migrating to warmer places. Several species form flocks that make them easy to spot including starlings, long-tailed tits and several species of wading bird. We also get influxes of winter visitors who have flown south to us for the winter including redwings, field fares and Brent geese. Some of the blackbirds you see in winter will be not be resident; they will be visiting us from Scandinavia. It is much easier for them to find enough food here during our relatively mild winters than their breeding areas in the north."

 

How we can help birds in winter

We can help our garden birds by feeding them through the winter and giving them places to nest in the spring. In the coldest weather fat balls are a great source of food and providing sunflower seeds will ensure your garden is popular with greenfinches and chaffinches as well as blue tits and great tits. It’s best to avoid the cheaper bird food that contains lots of barley and wheat grains- these have little nutritional value and most garden birds won’t eat them. It’s really important to clean feeders regularly with hot soapy water and dry them before refilling to help stop the spread of disease. If you put the feeders near a window you can enjoy

Juvenile Robin by Ben Watkins

birdwatching from the comfort of your house! Winter is also a great time to build a nest box. Blue tits and great tits will start looking for nesting sites in late winter so get them built and up early in the New Year to have the maximum chance of them being used.

 

Mammals can be harder to spot in winter, especially the smaller species that lose heat quickly. Mice and voles make underground nests and sleep through the coldest days whilst dormice and hedgehogs hibernate until more food is available in spring. Squirrels and badgers will be less active on the coldest days to save energy and

their precious fat reserves. Larger mammal species like foxes and deer can remain active throughout the winter so it is worth looking out for their tracks and signs on your winter walks.

For information on building your own bird feeder and nest box, and for other winter activity ideas and a spotter’s guide visit and download the Wild Winter family activity pack.

The Wild Winter pack above includes an animal tracks and signs guide to help you decipher the clues mammals leave behind!

The Cornwall Wildlife Trust have some fab nature activities to do with children, here are just a few....

 

How to build a nesting box for birds

 

How to build a hedgehog house 

 

Make a pond in a pot! 

 

Where to spot Autumn wildlife

 

How to grow a wild patch 

 

How to feed birds in your garden

 

 

You could WIN a family membership to your local Wildlife Trust and an outfit from our fab Outerwear range! Simply enter below...

We chatted to Ruth Williams, Marine conservation Manager at The Cornwall Wildlife Trust about her role, her favourite creatures and how we can all do our bit to help marine life in Cornwall.
Hi Ruth! Tell us all about your job, what does it involve on a day to day basis?

I am the Marine Conservation Manager for Cornwall Wildlife Trust, a charity dedicated to conserving Cornwall’s wildlife for future generations to enjoy.  It is a challenging job and very varied, every day is different!  I oversee the work of the Living Seas team which involves running dive and shore surveys, cliff watches to spot things like dolphins and basking sharks, and recording all stranded animals that wash ashore. It’s my job to use this information to campaign and lobby for change to help protect these animals from the threats they face. One big area of my work is working with fishermen to find solutions to stop animals getting caught in their nets.  I also lead our work to ensure Cornwall has an effective network of Marine Protected Areas that act as reserves for our marine wildlife, as well as helping to mitigate against climate change. I have the same desire as Frugi in that I want to be part of doing something that will make a difference in the big scheme of things to help our planet.  And being Cornish it gives me great satisfaction to know I’m doing something to help conserve the wildlife and natural beauty of this special place.

 

 

For any aspiring marine conservationists out there, tell us how you landed in your dream job!

It took me quite a few years to get my perfect job as a marine conservationist, you need a lot of determination and be willing to volunteer wherever you can. It’s a really competitive field with lots of people going for the same jobs so experience and additional skills really help. I studied Marine Biology at University of Plymouth, mainly because it was a really practical course, but also because it ran dive training as part of the course so one day a week I spent blowing bubbles under Plymouth Sound! I travelled and volunteered at several places, diving and surveying mostly and then won a scholarship to go to the Great Barrier Reef to study for my Masters, a marine biologists dream. I knew I wanted to work in Cornwall, so came home and started knocking on doors and worked in various jobs to get where I am today.  I fought my way through the county’s undergrowth to survey all the rivers and streams in Cornwall for the Environment Agency, did broader wildlife work for the Cornwall Biodiversity Initiative, and then worked as the marine education ranger for the Helford Voluntary Marine Conservation Group -  a great job running events and school trips promoting the marine life found in this amazing estuary. And then the job of Marine Conservation Officer came up at Cornwall Wildlife Trust, my perfect job in a place I love, and am still here!

 

How do Frugi’s donations help marine conservation?

Frugi’s donations make a massive difference to the work we can achieve through the Trust’s Living Seas programme. This year, Frugi has helped to fund our underwater, seashore and cliff surveys to help us gather the evidence we need to better conserve our marine wildlife, as well as several specific areas of work.

These include :

  • Special surveys to look for the awesome little St Pirans crab, a species of hermit crab we thought had gone extinct as it hadn’t been recorded for 50 years, but has been rediscovered here in Cornwall through our Shoresearch surveys;
  • We’ve been doing dive surveys to look for crawfish, a type of spiny clawless lobster, which seem to be making a comeback after nearly being fished out in the ‘70’s. We’re working closely with fisheries managers to make sure they don’t get overfished again, and have launched a campaign with local divers and dive boat operators to pledge not to take crawfish when diving;
  • We’ve been working with local coastal communities to clean our beaches and help get them plastic free, particularly through our Refill campaign where we encourage businesses to sign up as water refill stations and encourage people to use a refillable bottle instead of buying single use plastic containers.
  • We’ve also been actively lobbying Government for better marine protection through proposals for Highly Protected Marine Reserves which could make a huge difference to helping our seas recover and wildlife thrive again
What can we do to help look after our seas and beaches?

It often feels like there’s a lot to do, but everyone really can do their bit and it will make a difference. If we all do a small bit, it adds up to a big change. Beach cleans are an obvious and popular activity but we also need to reduce the amount of plastic we use, so try using a refillable bottle and look for loose veg and fruit in the shops instead of plastic wrapped food. Choose good Cornish seafood from sustainable fisheries. We’ve made this really easy with the Cornwall Good Seafood Guide (www.cornwallgoodseafoodguide,org,uk) which gives recommended fish to ask for, and where to get it locally. Join your local marine group to learn more and help do your bit locally (check out www.beachrangers.com to find your nearest group) and tell us what you see when out and about.

 

Finally, what is your favourite animal?

We all love dolphins and turtles and the big exciting animals but my real favourite has got to be the cute and charismatic little hermit crab! You can find them on most rocky shores, pottering around in rockpools carrying their shell homes on their backs. Pick them up and they hide for a second or two but are too curious to stay inside their shell for long and will peep out to have a look at you too! I could watch them for hours!

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