Saturday, 16 January 2016


January has been a busy month. The rains and mild weather have continued, with widespread flooding still an issue in the north of the UK. UK rainfall records for the month were smashed by the 8th day, and in the occasional break of sunshine daffodils bloom. 

In my back garden the long tailed tits, in a flock of up to two-dozen at times, have become almost daily visitors. Primroses are in flower in the border beside the garden path. A wren has been roosting in the roof. Where the neighbour's gable-end slopes down to meet the front edge of our roof, a gap between the soffits is just visible through a tangle of overgrown wisteria stems, and from this hole out the wren pops each morning, with a rattling call and a whirr of wings. Further out on the patch, I have seen roe deer grazing in the paddock beside 'the manor house' at Pitsham farm, and black headed gulls wheel over the sodden flood meadows either side of Cowdray causeway. I was able to fit in a short birdwatching stroll last week before a later-morning start at work, and was amazed to turn my binoculars onto the horses field (with the massive oak tree, from the metal gate in the hedge along the track, opposite the polo fields) and find my view filled with birds. Chaffinch were the most numerous, but they were joined in the grass by goldfinch, blackbird, and a few redwing. 

This week, at last the weather has turned cold; clear skies have lead to overnight frosts and crisp sparkling mornings. A friend who lives closer into town, near South Pond heard a vixen screaming a few nights ago. I have listened most evenings but I have yet to hear her, or the dog-fox bark his reply. This morning however, a familiar sound but one unheard for some time, bounced around the sharp frosted air; the drumming of a great spotted woodpecker from the woodland by the rife. This is the first time this winter that the woodpeckers have been drumming here, far later than last year's pre-christmas activity on 16th December. Are they triggered by the cold weather, or had the wood, until now, simply been too softened by rain to produce a sound that would travel well? 

The new year's list of birds on the patch is growing well, and so far stands as follows: 

Wren, long tailed tit, blue tit, great tit, coal tit, robin, blackbird, song thrush, house sparrow, wood pigeon, collared dove, magpie, carrion crow, jackdaw, rook, black headed gull, starling, goldfinch, chaffinch, pied wagtail, redwing, stock dove, mallard, Canada goose, goldcrest, cormorant, mistle thrush, sparrowhawk, buzzard, kestrel, green woodpecker, nuthatch, jay - 33 species

Today the sun is shining brightly, angled low through the trees, and the moon when it rises is a growing crescent approaching it's first quarter. 
A few hazel catkins are amongst those tempted into a false spring, but these have been caught out and will have to hope and wait for a while now as this confused season finally finds its cold bite. 
It is a welcome relief in a way, to feel the arctic-chill in the winter wind, despite it freezing my fingers, as the muddled warm and wet days were unsettling in their strangeness for this time of year. 

1 comment:

  1. It has been a crazy winter so far hasn't it, can't believe the amount of blossom out already, we had our first snow today as well after all the floods so totally mixed up.


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Hello! Thank you for viewing my blogs and profile. I am passionate about the countryside and british wildlife and I hope that this comes through in my blog. I am a nature writer and have been pursuing photography since early teenage years, whilst building a career in conservation. Helping people to reconnect with the natural world is very important to me, whether through direct hands on interaction, education or literature. Please also visit my website, for more information, my current CV, and further examples of writing and photography. You can contact me or keep up to date with new blog posts via Twitter @SophiEcoWild and/or Feedback, comments and audience participation are always welcome! Sophie May Lewis