THE recent cold snap, where there was a lot of snow and sharp frost, brought a whole range of challenges for wildlife in the Wee County.

In my local wood, it was fascinating to observe the different tracks of creatures in the snow, including foxes, badgers, roe deer and red squirrels.

The deer had left many patches of bare soil on the ground, where they had scraped the snow away with their front hooves to reach the vegetation below.

Red squirrels don't like deep snow, and at such times, tend to stay up in the trees more than usual.

Badgers are also not keen on snow and hard-frosted ground, and tend to reduce their activity during such periods to conserve energy.

However, my trail cameras still caught several badgers on film during the worst of the weather, as they tried to forage for food.

Interestingly, in one of my local woods, I counted an incredible 16 woodcock during an hour-long walk, flushed-up into the air by my feet.

They are declining birds, so it was good to see so many. I suspect they favoured this wood because some of its boggy, sheltered margins remained ice-free, providing places for them to feed.

The woodcock's mottled brown camouflage is so cryptic and perfect that they tend to sit tight when danger approaches, confident of remaining undetected.

However, if a bird is about to get trodden upon by an unsuspecting human, then it has no alternative other than to explode into the air at the last second.

The cold also brought some interesting visitors to the garden, including bramblings and fieldfares. Similar in appearance to a chaffinch, but with orange in the plumage and a white rump, the brambling is a scarce winter visitor to Scotland from Scandinavia.

The fieldfare is a handsome thrush, which also hails from northern and eastern Europe.

They were attracted into my garden by windfall apples and cotoneaster berries, and it was wonderful to see these normally shy birds up so close.

The weather has now turned milder, and at dusk and dawn I am starting to hear the wonderful music of song thrushes and blackbirds as they proclaim their territories in readiness for the forthcoming breeding season.