Short eared owl (Asio flammeus), adult hunting over rough grassland, RSPB Nene Washes Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire,

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.

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Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla), adult male in transitional plumage feeding on woodland floor, RSPB The Lodge Nature Reserve, Bedfordshire

Birds

November is when we really must accept that winter is near. But don’t fret… that means we’ll have plenty of garden visitors to enjoy over the coming colder months!


All your regular garden visitors flock back, so get those feeders cleaned and filled.

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.

Fieldfare in frosty bush

  • Blackbird is the most common species of thrush in our gardens, with second place going to the song thrush.

    This time of year, it’s also worth keeping an eye out for more unusual visitors, such as redwing or fieldfare. They especially love fallen apples.

  • 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.
Tawny owl (Strix aluco), adult roosting during the daytime in a hole in an oak tree, Suffolk

Listen out for owls this month

You might think November is an odd time to listen out for birds but tawny owls are territorial throughout the autumn, as young birds search for new territories.

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.

Mallard drake preening feathers, Martin Mere Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust

Out and about…

Feed the ducks! A popular activity for the kids but secretly enjoyed by grown-ups too. You may know that bread isn’t the best of foods for our feathered friends.

Healthier suggestions include wheat and other grains, peas, chopped lettuce …and even halved grapes, but perhaps that’s too fancy and best shared?

Great tit Parus major, feeding on suet coated sunflower hearts, from ground feeding table

Top Tip

Sunflower seeds attract the widest range of birds including blue and great tits plus all the finch species that regularly feed in gardens.

Red fox Vulpes vulpes, close up of young male.

Mammals

  • Hedgehogs – It’s very important to check your bonfires thoroughly before lighting them. Hedgehogs may be using them for hibernating or just a day-time refuge. Find out how to build a cosy hedgehog home.

  • 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.
Close up of a hedgehog

Give a hog a home

Visit the RSPB Shop now and buy a hedgehog house for that nature-loving friend or family member.

 

 

 

Seven-spot ladybird (coccinella 7-punctata), climbing up grass, The Lodge RSPB reserve, Sandy, Bedfordshire

Insects

  • 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.

  • Moth of the month… Yes, 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.

Surprising spider facts

 

  1. House Spiders get their name as they often turn up indoors but actually, they’ll be much happier outside. If you’re brave enough, grab a glass and a piece of card and carefully catch them and place them out in the garden.
  2. Living indoors tends to dehydrate spiders. That's why you often find them in baths and sinks. Try dangling a towel over the side to give them something grippy to escape on.
  3. Also, conkers do not scare off spiders sadly, it’s a myth. Sorry about that!
Scarlet red cap fungus growing at The Lodge RSPB reserve, England

Plants and fungi

  • Bountiful berries – At this time of year, hedgerows still have blackberries, rosehips, haws and sloes, forming a supply of food for birds through the winter.

  • Fungi – It’s not too late to get out and enjoy some fabulous fungi. 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.