Redwings and fieldfares are two species of thrush that spend the winter months in the UK. Their diet consists largely of berries and fallen fruit, so they are best looked for in laden hedgerows and trees. From a distance, the two species can be hard to separate from each other, and from song and mistle thrushes. For tips on how to tell them apart, see our handy thrush ID guide.
Nature's Calendar: November
As the nights draw in, it’s time to dig those thick coats out of the cupboard. November provides us with some amazing wildlife to discover – and there’s plenty to see right on your doorstep.
Welcoming our winter visitors
Bird table bonanza
The food we provide is most important to birds during winter, when natural food sources are few and far between. All of your regular garden visitors will flock in to feast, so make sure you keep your feeders clean and full.
Siskin and lesser redpoll may be amongst the usual suspects, so keep your eyes peeled. Also, check your chaffinch carefully – it could be a brambling. Look out for the orange chest and white belly, and its white rump when in flight.
Blackbirds are the most common species of thrush in our gardens, with second place going to the song thrush.
Wintering blackcaps arrive back in search of fat balls and berries. We often think of these as summer visitors but as most of our breeding population migrates south, birds from central and eastern Europe use UK gardens as a winter refuge.
Long-tailed tit flocks are always a delight to see and they should appear this month. Listen out for noisy flocks as they move from garden to garden.
Listen out for owls this month
You might think November is an odd time to listen out for birds, but tawny owls hold their territories throughout the autumn, and younger birds will be looking to establish their own turf. The calls you hear may be for the purpose of establishing or reinforcing their territory, or to communicate with the mate they hold their territory with.
Did you know that the classic ‘twit twoo’ is a duet? The female goes ‘twit’ or more accurately ‘keewheat’ and males make a more classic ‘ho ho ho hoooo’ call.
November can be an excellent time to see mammals. Foxes are on the move, so look out for some new faces in your neighbourhood. Males particularly start to roam far and wide in search of new territories ahead of breeding in a few months’ time.
It’s also very important to check your bonfires thoroughly before lighting them. Hedgehogs (and other wildlife) may be using them for hibernation, or as a place of refuge from the elements. If you'd like to make a home for hedgehogs in your garden, check out our guide on building a cosy hog home.
Keep an eye out for hibernating ladybirds. They like wedging themselves in windowsills so take care when cleaning. Also, be careful not to disturb any hibernating butterflies that could be lurking in a quiet corner of the house.
Though it may surprise you, there are still moths flying at night! Some species can keep active on colder nights and the aptly named November moth is one to look out for on your lit windows.
Plants and fungi
As some plants lose their splendor, others are bursting into colour and providing an essential food source for wildlife. Hedgerows still have blackberries, rosehips, haws and sloes, forming a supply of food for birds through the winter. There's also an abundance of fungi, so keep your eyes peeled when you visit local woodlands and grasslands. Superbly named species such as scarlet elf cup, sulphur tuft and turkey tail plus many more can be seen in November.
Is it too early to mention Christmas? Probably, but a classic reminder is now visible as trees lose their leaves. Look out for mistletoe amongst the branches of trees such as apple, willow and poplar. Did you know that mistletoe is a ‘hemiparasite’ which means it gets some of its nutrients from another plant (well, tree!) whilst also photosynthesising to make its own.