28 December 2010
Last updated at 01:11
December's icy weather has meant a lean period for UK wildlife, and experts recommend the public put out food and water. A Christmas edition of Springwatch on BBC Two at 1830 GMT, 29 December, finds out which species are coping - and which are struggling.
Barn owls suffer in the snow, as the rodents they feed on burrow beneath it and can no longer be seen. The Barn Owl Trust says many were found dead - particularly in Scotland - last winter, which was the coldest in 30 years.
And hedgehog numbers are down. Alison Brown's dog found this one in her garden, too underweight to survive hibernation. She brought it inside for food and water, and it escaped to snuggle behind the fridge. It's now in the care of Hedgehog Rescue.
All the snow and ice has been very picturesque, as this bejewelled cobweb photographed by Annerley Johnson shows...
... but it has meant food has been hard to come by. Many gardens played host to unexpected visitors, such as this pheasant in Malcolm Evans' garden in South Northants. "We've lived here 20-plus years and this is a first - a sign of how tough things are."
Starling numbers, too, are down, almost 14% in the past five years, according to The Big Garden Birdwatch survey. Here, a starling argues with a wood pigeon over the contents of Tony Uzzell's bird feeder in Cheshire.
The survey also showed a 17% decline in house sparrows, and tree sparrows are on the RSPB's red list. But Nicola Ratcliffe reported plenty of the little birds mobbing the feeders in her garden in the North Lincolnshire countryside.
Last winter the RSPB was so concerned about the bittern, it put sprats out for them. But 2010 has been its best year since 1911. This is down to breeding success, but also arrivals from Europe - and they may fare better in the cold than originally thought.
And several species of ladybird have been in rude health, with Harlequins observed breeding in Scotland for the first time - quite an expansion of their habitat.
But what about animals regarded as pests? Should people persist in feeding foxes, after a spate of urban fox attacks, such as that on the twin girls bitten while asleep in their cots in east London last June?
This, and other questions, will be addressed in the Springwatch Christmas special. All photos from the BBC's Winterwatch Flickr group. See links below for more details on wildlife watching.