I WRITE these notes on Tuesday, December 17, having just spent the day dry stone walling at the Roaches with my countryside students in beautiful spring like sunshine. It felt more like April than December.
The mild weather continues across the country and as a consequence many of the winter migratory birds don't seem to be here in the numbers of previous years. The mild conditions have also meant less activity than usual on my bird table. The range of food I've put out hasn't been touched which shows there must still be an abundance of natural food for our garden birds to eat. During the last three winters we have seen some very cold spells and plenty of the white stuff! Are we now due a mild winter?
The game shooting season is now in full swing with our local shoots already half way through their season. This year I've joined a small local shoot and I have enjoyed the chance to be out and about with people from all walks of life enjoying what the countryside has to offer.
The period between Christmas and New Year will see many of us enjoying the local countryside to walk off the Christmas excess. So what can we expect to see out and about locally? On the bird front there should be the chance to see the winter migratory birds such as the redwing and fieldfare making the most of the remaining autumnal berries. Hopefully we might see a few waxwings locally. The hazel will now be showing their yellow catkins or lambs tails as they are also known. These are the male flowers and will pollinate the small red female flowers which can be seen on the same tree. If the mild conditions continue then we can expect to see the first of our bulbs starting to emerge.
Don't forget that December 21 is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. Thereafter the nights will start drawing out and it will start to get lighter in the mornings.
Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a successful 2014