At the moment, the world may seem a cold, dreary place. However, in February the daylight hours are slightly longer, love is in the air, and the countryside is starting to awaken after a hibernation!  

If you're celebrating this Valentine's Day with a romantic local walk in the countryside, you may spot the following species:

Flora and Fungi
In the garden


Barn owls

With heart-shaped faces, what better sight than to see this monogamous species become more active during February. Male owls can be seen active during the day, busy collecting food to woo over the females' heart.

However, owls are crepuscular animals meaning the best time to see an is at dawn or dusk. They usually hunt by hovering over grassland and hedgerows, listening for small mammals. They will often perch on branches or even on fence posts.


Think of love and romance in the wild world, and you'll often think of the loving courtship ritual of this monogamous species. Mute swans will gracefully face each other, ruffle of feathers, bow intertwine their curved necks into a love heart shape.

There are also other swan species to look out for at this time of year. Whooper swans migrate from Iceland. Bewick's swans visit the UK from Siberia.

Great crested grebes

You may see another spectacle on lakes, reservoirs, and gravel pits across most of the UK - the Great crested grebe's courtship.

It's an elegant but energetic display, like something you might see on Strictly Come Dancing. The courtship dance includes the grebes flicking their heads from side to side, bill-dippy, preening and sliding towards each other in the water.

The grand dance finale brings this dance to a close with a move described as the 'penguin.' A grebe will dive for a present of weed to show off to their partner – not the most romantic gift. When the grebe resurfaces, the pair rush towards each other. They meet chest to chest and paddle furiously to keep their balance as they rear up out of the water as they show off their waterweed with head shakes.

Great crested grebes courtship dance | WWT

Great spotted woodpecker

Are you heading out into the woods? Listen out for the 'drumming' of the great spotted woodpecker on a dead tree.

At this time of the year, the male does most drumming, warning others to stay off his patch and let the females know he's ready for 'love'.  Later in the year, and the female decides it's the right time, she will reply with her drumming.

The male can drum at a rapid rate! Usually at about 10 to 15 strikes per second, but if he is eager,  up to 40! The impact is similar to hitting a wall face-first at up to 20mph. Ouch, but they have adapted for it!  


Brown hares

Despite also be known as 'Mad March Hares', brown hares can start breeding as early as February.

During the year, hares are usually solitary. However, generally in March, females are often seen fighting off the mating urges of the males. They take a standing stance and literally 'box' with their front paws.

Did you know? The young, known as leverets, are born fully furred with their eyes open.

Wood mouse

The wood mouse is widespread, common in woodland, rough grassland and gardens. February is the start of their breeding seasons, and with quite a short lifespan of about a year, they don't hang about! A female woodmouse can have up to six litters a year!

Not to be confused with the house mouse that has smaller ears.  

Roe Deer

Roe Deer

During these winter months, roe deer can often be seen in large groups, feeding out in the open. Roebucks are currently in the process of re-growing their antlers ready for the rutting season in the height of the summer.



Frogs begin to emerge from hibernation and start spawning, often returning to the pond where they spawned. They will lay their eggs in pools or ponds, usually with surrounding vegetation to hide their offspring from predation.

To tell the difference between frogspawn and toad spawn is relatively simple. Frogspawn is laid in clumps, whilst toad eggs come out in long chains like strings of pearls draped over weed and submerged plants.

Watching the frogspawn develop into frogs is an excellent activity for children and adults. If you notice frogspawn on your walk and this is somewhere where you can often, it takes 14 weeks from the tadpole hatching to form into a frog!


Brimstone ButterflyButterflies

At the moment, the weather is freezing for butterflies. However, on the occasional warm day, butterfly species that hibernate over the winter will emerge. They may be seen basking on walls, tree trunks but as soon as the weather cools they will disappear to their winter hibernation spots. These include peacock, small tortoiseshell, comma or brimstone butterfly.


In general, bumblebees can emerge this early but are unusual. However, it is becoming more common due to climate change. For most bumblebees species this season is time for hibernation. However, there have been recordings of the buff-tailed bumblebee active winter in warmer parts of the united kingdom. These bees feed on a few winter-flowering plant species such as heather.  

Look out flora and fungi too!




Hazel catkin



Scarlet Elfcup

Jelly ears fungus

Large Puffball

In the garden

Even if you're not venturing out on a local walk, there are plenty of garden species that you can often spot from the comfort of your house:

  • Goldfinch
  • Nuthatch
  • Greenfinch
  • Collared Doves
  • Starlings
  • Blackcaps
  • House sparrows
  • Blackbirds
  • Thrushes
  • Woodpigeons