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February has been a month full of changes. It began with a snowy, cold and

frosty blast. Some people drew the curtains, stoked the fire and huddled in

their homes, but we got suited and booted, embraced the conditions and

went sledging.

It's true what they say - Winter is more fun when you're a kid. As a Mam you

get the job of peeling sodden garments from wet, wriggly bodies, then dealing

with a pile of soggy, snowy clothes and decorating the house with drying coats,

hats, gloves and snow trousers. But the hot chocolate always tastes so good

and makes their wee faces glow. Now we're having mild, wet and windy weather - it looks like February but

feels too warm. The landscape has been under a white blanket one week, then

running with water the next, our snowdrops are still bobbing and dancing in

the winds, with the daffodil stems growing fast nearby. Trees and shrubs are

budding up, even the grass has been growing. Last year was an extremely

slow start when compared to this year.

As a family we walked up the nearby Roan fell when it was covered in snow,

and in just one walk spotted a variety of tracks, roe deer, badger, pheasant

and grouse, the most exciting one was an otter trail, serpentining in and

out of the almost frozen-over ditches and burns, tobogganing down the hill,

then back onto four paws.

The snow at the top of the fell was so dry and crisp it was like tiny crystals,

gently blowing in front of us as we walked along, and once away from signs

of the farmer's quad bike we saw no tracks other than the wildlife. We had

clear views all round, and it was just beautiful. Today has been mild and wet. Looking over the river Liddle, we are now up to

approximately 12 oyster catchers, with more appearing almost every day. I heard

them before I saw them, or rather my daughter did one morning as I woke her.

'Mam they're back,' it was lovely to hear her sounding so excited as she jumped

out of bed and peeked out the window. She was right, they were fleeting about

letting the winds carry them. Nature seems to carry on regardless of conditions, adapting and tweaking

things as required, demonstrating survival of the fittest at its best. Even

snowdrops which burst through all of a sudden, then found themselves covered

in snow then being blown about in high winds, somehow continue to be bright

little buttons in the grass and woodland. Other plants seem a little confused by the weather - we had crocuses in

January and cherry blossom on our trees, and our daffodils are earlier

than other years. We spotted frog spawn at the beginning of the month,

so it will be interesting to see if all species continue to survive with the

ever changing climate.

What can we do to help? We all can be greener, to think about what we use, throw away,

leave switched on perhaps. If we all do a little, a little then

becomes more, then more can become an epic change.

I make no apology for going on about plastic again - balloons, bottles,

straws and plastic cotton buds are just a few of the things which can

cause havoc to the environment.

This month Newcastleton WILDLIFE CLUB will be doing their first

litter pick of the year. last year we filled nine bin liner bags,

mostly with plastic bottles. A ban on one-use plastics really would

bring about an epic change.

Things to think about /do something about ...

● Consider using bars of soap instead of liquid soap in a dispenser ● Use a damp cloth to wipe things instead of disposable wet wipes ● Buy cotton buds that aren't made of plastic ● Use paper straws instead of plastic ● Look out for water in a can not a bottle, Kielder is already using these. That's five easy things we can all do to help our planet, so go on,

make a change, start today. Happy WILDLIFE watching all x

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