Monday, 28 December 2015

I saw some violets in flower up the Welcombe.

Yes, we know the weather is unseasonal but to see violets in December must be unusual. I saw just a couple of these today in the woods overlooking the Welcombe Hotel.

I'm wondering what the effect of this prolonged mild spell will be. I suspect there will be winners and losers as is usually the case. It can't be bad for the birds, but the wet weather won't be good fro small mammals and as a consequence those that feed on them. Plants that bud may have those buds taken by the surely inevitable frost.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

I saw some Blackthorn flowers up the hills this morning

It has been unusually warm so far this winter. The grass is a lush green and still growing and some of the spring buds are showing early. I was a little surprised to come across these sprigs of Blackthorn flower this morning though. 

Friday, 11 December 2015

I found these pics of sunnier days from the summer

Outside it's cold, wet and it will inevitably be very muddy up the Welcombe. The dogs won't mind though so regardless of the weather we'll be about up there before too long. I was looking through pics on my computer, as I do from time to time, and came across some I took one summer  of a family flying kites on the Monument Field. Running in a field, catching the wind with your kite - how good is that? 

Here's another pic I took of the grasses and flowers on the Clopton Park side in the summer. It seems to me the Welcombe Hills has got so much to offer so many people.

The rain's pattering on the conservatory roof, the dogs are getting restless for a walk and I'm thinking about how many layers I'll need to keep warm and dry. I'm also wondering at  the incredible seasonal transformations of our countryside. Whilst it won't be a great deal of fun up there in the rain today, it won't be long before spring, the longer days and colour returns.

To be sure, I'll be up there and posting regularly. 

Sunday, 6 December 2015

I've been waiting for the Redwings and Fieldfares to arrive in numbers

The start of the winter months - November and December - don't usually give great encouragement when it comes to nature watching. The days are short, the light is often poor, the weather can be wet and windy and as far as the Welcombe Hills is concerned the mud makes some areas un-walkable. 

I've been waiting for the Redwings and Fieldfares to arrive from Scandinavia. Like so many migrating birds they are remarkable in making the arduous journey to escape the harsh winter to the relatively moderate UK climate. They arrive from October onwards and may stay as late as the following March. Similar to our own native Thrush, they are a gregarious birds and voracious feeders, stripping the hawthorns and blackthorns of their berries. The Welcombe Hills are great for spotting them but it is difficult to get close. Like other flocking birds they are noisy when feeding but difficult to see until they sense your approach. Then suddenly the sky will be full of birds for a few seconds until they land in trees a little further away.

When there is no more food to be had in the Hills they will come to the gardens and parks. We've a cotoneaster in the front garden which fruits well. The Redwings and Fieldfares will strip it within a couple of days and then move on.

Much as I love these beautiful birds and welcome their arrival, I do feel a bit sorry for the poor native Blackbird and Thrush whose larders get plundered by these invaders.

Here's a short video clip,of these birds in our front garden a couple of years ago. They usually start feeding from the top of the trees and work their way down. That's why the tree looks strange with no berries at the top but the branches towards the bottom fully laden.