FACT FRIDAY WEEK 10
One of the most important food sources for mammals and birds during winter is the awesome array of bright berries on our bushes and hedgerows!
These little jewels of colour are easy to spot in the frosty winter landscape. Their presence during the harsh months of winter when food is hard to find is what helps wildlife to survive.
Examples of winter berry species include blackthorn, hawthorn, rowan and dog rose. Most of them are the classic red colour, but not all! Blackthorn berries are a deep, midnight blue, similar to blueberries 🫐. And not all berries come to season in winter - some, like elderberries, appear in the summer.
Those berries that do appear in winter have become intertwined with out culture: holly berries last between November and February and are associated with Christmas (especially in the carol, “The Holly and the Ivy”!).
Many berries can be foraged and eaten by humans too, although some, like spindle, are toxic to humans. It’s always important to remember all the wild species that depend on this food source, though.
From birds like fieldfares, redwings and mistle thrushes to dormice, wood mice and foxes - winter berries are perhaps the best Christmas gift they are given!