How to connect with nature in your local area this winter

How to connect with nature in your local area this winter

This winter, we’re likely to all be staying local when it comes to getting outdoors. When you know an area well, it can be easy to take it for granted but often there’s plenty to uncover if you take a moment to do so.

Though it may not always seem like it, towns, cities and suburbs are home to a wide range of animals and plants that share these spaces with us. These animals and plants are called urban wildlife. Urban wildlife is wildlife that can survive (or thrive) in urban environments or densely populated areas. The human population is expanding, and with it, urban environments and wildlife too.

These environments provide opportunities to spot wildlife such as birds, squirrels, insects and hedgehogs, often within a short radius of your home. Look out for foxes scavenging at night, and even deer (if you keep quiet!) in a leafy park or garden. If you’re lucky, you could even catch a glimpse of a red kite – once a very rare bird which has made a Hampshire comeback in recent years, thanks to reintroduction programmes and legal protection. Look out for its distinctive, angled red wings, and ‘mewing’ calls to catch a glimpse.

If you want to enjoy more wildlife from the comfort of your home, consider putting out a bird feeder in your garden or outside space. You can buy bird feed at your local garden centre, or you could make your own. A bird feeder is likely to encourage blue tits, great tits and goldfinches, among others, that will add a dash of colour to your outside view.

There is a huge variety of urban wildlife to see around your local area; sometimes all you have to do is take a closer look. On your next walk to the shop or post box, look around and take in nature. Why not challenge yourself to spot wildlife that you might otherwise miss – perhaps you’ll notice something that’s your favourite colour, birds that make interesting noises, or greenery that has a peculiar texture. You may be surprised by the things you had never spotted before.

Pigeons can be one of the more popular wildlife sights in urban areas but they have their own majestic beauty.

It’s easy to get swept up in our daily routines but taking time to appreciate nature is a great way to be more mindful and present in your surroundings. And, we find, taking a moment to notice the wildlife around you helps you appreciate your local area.

Sightseeing locally is a great way to feel a sense of renewed respect for the wildlife around you. Plan your next adventure around our rights of way network to discover more natural delights in your stomping ground. You can use our definitive map to work out routes near you.

If you do come across some local wildlife, why not enter our urbanwildlife photography competition? The competition is now open for entries; simply snap a photo of the nature in your local area, hashtag it with #doorstepnature and tag us @hampshirecountryside on Instagram or @HantsCS on Twitter to enter (terms and conditions apply). There’s a £50 voucher up for grabs!

And, for further information on urban wildlife across the UK, check out Hampshire Library Service’s podcast episode featuring author Stephen Moss in which he discusses his book The Accidental Countryside.