Winter is the coldest period of the year in the Northern hemisphere countries. In winter the days are short, the nights are long and the air temperature decreases from late autumn and during winter. For most of winter the sky is covered in grey clouds and sunlight, although not completely absent, is significantly lesser compared to warmer months. In winter there is ice which freezes the soil, vegetation and smaller bodies of water.
Even though at first glance it seems that nature is resting, under the surface and on it, the living organisms continue living; some species are active, some hibernate, while others have slightly reduced or changed activities. However, this does not mean that nature cannot be explored in winter – quite the opposite, winters offer exceptional and unique opportunities for observation and exploration of wildlife.
1.Observation of tracks in snow
Snow is expected during winter months. Snow falls on the surface and depending on the local weather conditions and the location, it can remain up to several weeks. Snow is a large white expanse where one can explore wildlife movement. One way is to look for tracks of wild animals in the snow. The majority of animals in Europe do not migrate (with the exception of some bird species), which means they stay in the same place during the winter. When moving through the snow they leave behind tracks of their feet, claws, hooves and paws, and the white snow is an excellent surface to examine them.
2.Observation of animal tracks through vegetation
During winter the major part of the vegetation has no leaves and is bare, so it is easy to notice various tracks on the plants; peeled bark eaten by deer or bark damaged when they sharpen their antlers; paw tracks by bears in search of larvae and insects on the bark, as well as tracking of feeding birds.
3.Exploring moss and lichen
Unlike other plant species, mosses and lichen can be found all year round, particularly during winter. They grow everywhere: on tree barks and branches, on moist rocks and stones, fallen trees and old stumps. Because of their colour and shape lichen are also called land corals and are fascinating part of the flora that can be explored during winter.