Saturday, 17 December 2016

Winter wonders

There have been so many Christmas events over the last few weeks that there never seems to be a quite minute to sit down and write a blog post. I do love to watch the school choir singing, spend an afternoon at a Christmas fair, have a good sing-a-long at the school/Guides/Beavers carol concert, watch a Nativity play or guitar concert etc, etc, but I'll be glad when school breaks up on Tuesday and we can relax for a couple of days before the big day.

We've still been out and about in the Chilterns though and still keep finding wonderful things ...

I walked around Grangelands this week and was struck by how quiet and bare it felt. The orchids and wildflowers that carpet the ground in the spring are gone, there are no butterflies and beetles to be seen and even the huge Roman snails have hidden themselves away for the winter. It all feels so different at this time of year, but there was still plenty to see. I stood and watched as a kestrel hovered just ahead of me. It hung in the air, head down, scanning for prey, before swooping down then returning back to hover above me. Such a wonderful sight.

As I walked through the edge of the woods, I disturbed a flock of redwings that were making the most of the berries in the hedgerows. They flew ahead of me and landed in the trees, only to be disturbed again as I carried on walking. They migrate here in the winter and are a member of the thrush family. You can tell their redwings because they have a cream stripe above their eye and their red flanks.

Then I spotted four little collared earthstars on the side of the path. They're my favourite fungi as they are so unusual and it's always such a thrill to find one (let alone four).  I saw one, then as I was kneeling down to get a photo I saw another one, eventually finding four all together. They were very hard to see though as they were hidden in amongst the leaves and looked like they had just burst through.
Collared earthstar
Back home, the recent cold weather has brought the birds back to our back garden. The goldfinches have found the evening primrose seed heads. They love them, so I always make sure we have some in the garden. They're beautiful flowers that bloom all summer, then you get the added bonus of goldfinches right outside your kitchen window.

There were 6 there this morning
We've also had a family of about ten long-tailed tits visiting every day. They fly into the garden together and only stay for a few minutes before they move off. It's almost like they have a route around the local gardens and fields that they take each day and we're lucky enough to be one of their stops.

We've had a feeder stuck to the kitchen window for a few years. The sparrows and blue tits are quite happy to use it, even when you're stood next to it in the kitchen. For the first time though the long-tailed tits have started to use it, which gives you such a unique view of their cute little faces.

Peeping in the kitchen window at me as I took a picture of it

So it may be winter, but there are still plenty of wonders out there.

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