Today’s guest writer is Pip Gray, who is joining us to talk about the joys of urban nature – specifically in Cardiff, in the colder weather! Take it away, Pip!
With acres of green spaces, wild coast line and miles of waterways flowing through the heart of the city, Cardiff is a city full of wildlife and nature to appreciate all times of the year – including the best time to go out and see it, winter.
Spending time in nature is scientifically proven to improve our mood, mental and general health, there’s no better time to get outside than in winter! Full to the brim with some of our most dramatic and exciting natural experiences, which can rival any summers day in the sun – disconnect and get involved.
Wrap up in your big winter coat, pull on your wellies and let’s create some warming winter memories outside amongst our cities ancient trees and wild neighbours.
Whilst we’re wrapped up in scarves and boots, wildlife from our chillier highlands surrounding Cardiff flock to our city for a warm escape from freezing conditions.
Look for winter birds such as Fieldfare and Redwing, relatives of the Song Thrush, who will be visiting our parks and gardens to feast on berries and seek shelter from colder climes.
They’ll be joined by one of the greatest wildlife spectacles in the UK, huge Starling murmurations. To enjoy this free performance, spend a little time looking up just before dusk at the Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve, or across the city’s parks including Splott Park to watch up to thousands of birds swirling and dancing in the sky together before they roost.
Get In The Garden
Winter isn’t best known as a popular time to get in the garden, but our garden birds really appreciate a little helping hand during this tough season.
Setting out a feeding station and/or water is a lifeline for birds such as Robin and House Sparrows whose populations have plummeted due to loss of places to live and feed in our suburban sprawl. A simple feeder from a pet or DIY store filled with suet balls and a water bath will reward you with close up views of our most colourful garden birds including Blue Tits and Chaffinches – it’s like a safari, but for your garden!
Now is also a great time to start thinking about how to make your garden wildlife friendly for the year ahead, whether it’s pots of wildflower for bees or a fruit bush which supports everything from butterflies to birds!
Signs Of Spring
Another easy way to connect with nature that’s accessible to all, is to get down to earth. No really, get down to the ground and start noticing our amazing wild plants! Here in Cardiff we have countless numbers of wildflower, grasses, fungi and ancient organisms such as lichen and moss. A really great way to get interactive with our botanical buddies is with #WildFlowerHour at 8pm every Sunday on Twitter, where you can share your finds, have help identifying and get involved with protecting the plants which support our wildlife, and us.
In winter, look for snowdrops in our wooded areas, which will begin to flower alongside delicate yellow primroses. Some of our most ancient plants such as ferns and lichen thrive in our oldest forests, visit Howardian Gardens or Coed y Wenallt to lose yourself in the magic of an ancient woodland without leaving the city.
Thanks Pip! Pip Gray runs a Cardiff based wildlife blog, Wildly Pip, where she documents her journey living wildly in the city centre.
Pip’s next wildlife talk about Cardiff’s winter wildlife is run through Green Squirrel and is on February 16 at Roath Park Lake.