What to look out for in February...

Frogspawn

Frogs lay up to 5000 eggs in a mass of jelly at this time of year. Look for spawn in ponds, ditches and slow moving streams.

Tadpoles take about 1 month to emerge and 11 weeks to form into frogs.

Toad spawn differs from frog spawn in that it forms long strings and frog spawn is one mass of eggs.

If frogs spawn too early they may fail to breed that year, as freezing weather kills the eggs.

Rooks

Look and listen for rookeries up in the tree tops. Rookeries are prominent clusters of large nests in the tree tops. You are likely to hear the rooks' cacopony of loud calls and see the large black birds flapping about.

Rooks will be busy collecting food for their young around this time of year. You will know they have young if you spot a rook with a swollen gullet full of food. 

Rooks collect and bury acorns in the winter and can remember the exact locations of acorn stashes come the spring.

You can tell a rook from a crow by the feathers on their faces. Rooks have a bald area surrounding their beak, whereas a crow has a more feathery face. Crows also nest in pairs and are usually solitary, whereas rooks are social and form rookeries.

Look for the first flowers of spring

Look carefully and you will see some tiny and unusual flowers at this time of year.

Catkins form on hazel and alder, which are the male part of flowers, as well as the tiny red female flowers of the hazel, and cones of the alder. 

Look in woodland edges and hedgerows for the tiny purple or white flowers of sweet violet. Also the green shoots of bluebells start emerging around this time, although they don't flower until April or May.

Mad 'March' hares!

An evening walk across farmland at this time of year is likely to reward you with the sight of a hare, or even a pair of hares battling. These fights are in fact not a pair of males, but usually a female attempting to fight off a male she doesn't want to mate with. As female hares are larger than males, she will usually win, and gets to choose a more attractive partner.