Nature Notes: February

The days may still be short, but there are small signs that change is coming and Spring is on its way. Look out for leaf buds and catkins on trees – hazel catkins, which are flowers, will have grown considerably longer through the winter, and the slender beach tree buds are getting ready to burst open.

The first of the bulbs are also appearing – snowdrops and crocuses will pop out of the ground. These are the vital first flowers for any hungry queen bees braving the cold weather. It’s really important to keep feeding the birds at this time of year, and remember to leave out some water when it is frosty as birds need to drink and bathe even when most water sources are frozen.

Look out for a wood mouse in the cracks and crevices around your garden – these beautiful little mice with huge black eyes keep busy throughout the winter. On cold sunny winter days look to the skies for circling buzzards and red kites – both a common sight around here due to Brechfa Forest and the high open moorland – the latter can join together in groups and use pockets of rising warm air to go ever higher in the sky. This is the perfect time of year to take ten minutes to wander around your garden with a warm coat and a cuppa and just notice the first activity of the year – a welcome routine in these uncertain times that will carry on year after year.

Environmental tip of the month:

Swap your scourer! Scourers are made of plastic and they break into pieces from being used, the tiny plastic particles go down the drain and into streams, rivers and then the sea. Plastic is now found in every living thing, including in our bloodstreams and even breast milk. Scourers also go in the bin and sit in landfill where they take 100s of years to break down, or have to be incinerated, which released greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. A fantastic alternative is a loofa and/or a coconut brush – we use both of these alongside a washable cloth in our house. You can get all of these items from Aardvark Alternatives or The Green Scoop in Carmarthen, Watson and Pratts in Lampeter, or online at Ethical Superstore (or Amazon!). They last for ages (our loofa and coconut brush are still going strong after a year), so they work out cheaper in the long run, and don’t come packaged in plastic either.

Morgan Jones