Nature Notes

Mid-winter with few signs of any seasonal change, apart from the catkins on a few hazel trees opening. These mainly seem to be from plantings, with genetics unsuited to the local climate, the native hazels, with a few exceptions, wait a few weeks until the days are definitely lengthening.

The first half of January has been largely dull and damp, though a few hard frosts have been followed by brighter days. An early morning covering of snow on a couple of days last week quickly disappeared. The bird species and numbers on the farm have stabilised and settled, and will likely remain the same until spring approaches, or the weather takes a turn for the worst. An exception was the pair of Redpoll which arrived at the garden bird feeders this morning, the first we have seen all winter. if they follow the pattern of previous years they will stay (and be joined by others) until they move off to breed.

The Grey Squirrels in the woods are preparing to breed. Earlier this week we watched a female being pursued around oak trees in a wood by two males. She, and one of the males, were clearly familiar with the trees. They were dashing at speed along thin branches and making some long jumps to the next tree. The other male came in from some distance and appeared not know the routes, keeping to the larger branches and even coming down to the ground to get to the next tree. It was, however, this  male (a stranger?) that eventually mated with the female on a thin branch at the top of an oak tree.