Sunday, 20 January 2013

Winter Wildlife

Winter brings about a change in some of the wildlife found here at Gibside.  With summer migrants long gone look out for wintering birds like brambling, redwing, fieldfare and if your really lucky waxwings.  Jays are still visible on the Avenue searching for the last of the fallen acorns and another bird to watch out for is the crossbill.  These are usually seen in flocks either feeding on conifer seeds high in the tree tops or flitting from tree to tree with their twittering calls.  Look and listen for them around the Stables, Bothy and Banqueting House areas.


Badgers don't hibernate so are still actively searching for worms and other grubs along with the last of the autumn fruits including here at Gibside lots of yew berries.  In really hard icy conditions or after heavy snowfall food can be hard to find so they may lie up for a day or two waiting for easier conditions.  This month will see the sow (female) badgers beginning to give birth to their new cubs.

Badger cub with two adults

Roe deer are easier to spot in winter when much of the tall vegetation has died down.  These are often encountered in small family groups of  a doe with last years kid(s).   The bucks meanwhile having shed last years antlers are busy growing new ones protected in a covering of velvet.  Occasionally does, usually older ones, may also grow a pair of rudimentary antlers which usually remain covered in hair and are perennial and not shed unlike those of the bucks.


Roebuck with antlers recently shed

Roebuck with growing antlers in 'velvet'

Roe doe with 'antlers'


  1. hi phil
    had a single brambling,6 jays and 30+ redwings in the sheep field near the avenue last week, also a flock of 35 crossbills near the stables at the back end of december. good numbers of birds feeding from the hide.a single dipper was on the derwent and 3 roe deer on the estate.
    great days birding

  2. Hi Steven

    Some good birds there and that's a good flock of crossbills you saw.