over the past couple of months, chances to go a wandering have been somewhat
hampered by the weather, with very strong winds and a considerable number of
very wet weekends... To say that nature is somewhat confused, would be an
understatement, for most of January and into February it was quite mild for the
time of year, with only a few cold snaps recently occurring.
Velvet Shanks Fungi
fungi (I, by default, tend to call these Turkey Tails, however there seem to be
many, many variations!)
the woods, there has been a flock of Chaffinches feeding on the ground, then
flitting up into the branches, they are extremely skittish! The trees have been
full of Great and Blue Tits feeding and calling, but not yet declaring.
On various regular perches Robins have been beginning to call their
territories and every so often I have heard the Nuthatches 'Pinging' to each
other high up in the trees.
A little further along was a smart male Blackbird, who had paused before flitting back into the cover of the woodland, I have seen a number of these in recent weeks foraging in the fallen leaves and also watched (and heard!) them chasing around, both in the woods and around the garden as they start to find a mate and a territory.
sunnier spots along the edges of both the fallow field and woodland, I have
recently glimpsed branches of Blackthorn full of buds and in some cases coming
into bloom. On my way to work of a morning, many of the Blackthorn are in
full bloom already.
Now all this blossom, whilst beautiful to see, with it appearing this early will not be pollinated - most of the bees and other insects are still asleep where it is still too cold for them. This will have an effect later in the year when I'm expecting to see far less fruits for the birds. It may also have an effect on our earlier butterflies who often nectar on blossom. Whilst trees only blossom once however, the trusty Bramble may well save the day - I have started to see fresh buds on many of the banks of brambles, so bees, butterflies and birds as well as a host of other insects will still have a feast. (The local fox may also have his blackberries too!)
and get me!'
Elsewhere in the fallow field, (which was never mown last year, so am rather excited to see what the longer grass encourages, mice, voles? if so, the Kestrels may begin to frequent it again and I'm sure the local Tawny Owl will take advantage...) amongst the brambles, clumps of short sallow and occasionally on the skeletal hogweed stems and knapweed heads, Seven Spot Ladybirds have been out and about. One morning, before we began to get frosts, I found one on 'lookout' with several others tucked up in the curl of a bramble leaf.
I watched, it proceeded to investigate all the little nooks in the tree
it's efforts paying off, when a tasty morsel was found!
I took a route back through the woods, I was also treated to drumming from the
Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Mrs even went to the top of a tree to see where it
was coming from!
There were further commotions going on amongst the Jays, I often hear them squabbling or chatting to each other, but rarely catch more than a glimpse as they fly about in the trees. On this particular morning though I had a real treat as one landed above me and stayed put just long enough for a good look-see.
giving me a rather cheeky 'over-the-shoulder' stare, off it went and I
continued home through a woodland full of shooting Bluebells, Cuckoo pint and
in places, blooming primroses,