Ah the robin: that beautiful cute cuddly little bird seen in peaceful Christmas card scenes and the Netflix animation Robin Robin. But all isn’t quite what it seems…
Robins are actually tough as nails with fire in their belly as well as on their chest. A good feeding patch is well worth defending, and that is exactly what they are doing when you hear them singing in mid-winter or see them chasing off anything that might have an eye on their worms.
Another of our smallest birds, the wren, is easier to spot at this time of year as they’ll be out frantically searching for insects to eat. The lack of insects and their small size makes them particularly vulnerable to cold weather, and in the most severe winters populations can dramatically decline.
Their scientific name is Troglodytidae which means ‘cave dweller’. This reflects their habits of nesting and searching for food in gaps and crevices. Many defend territories where they know there will be a good supply of food but the differences are often put aside on an evening when they come together to roost to keep warm.
Put up your Christmas nest boxes!
It may be the middle of winter but foxes are turning up the heat. January is the peak of their breeding season and it is when they’re at their most vocal, with their screeches and screams echoing through the blackness and scaring the living daylights out of those trying to sleep. They don’t really mean any harm, they are just looking for love or fighting off rivals.
Once couples pair up they spend a few weeks patrolling their territory and hunting together, forming a strong bond. The female also seeks out a place to give birth to her pups once spring arrives. These could be in purpose-built dens or equally underneath your garden shed!
RSPB Dorking and District local group covers the local area, has regular walks and meetings in person and online to provide the chance to learn more in a friendly way. Check out our activities on Facebook @Dorking RSPB or our website below for details of the walks https://ww2.rspb.org.uk/groups/dorkinganddistrict/