January Days

January is generally a bad month for trail cameras. Poor light, cold nights and heavy dew often lead to disappointing results and lenses that stay fogged for days.

But some of the cameras have been doing quite well – it is a rare treat to see a Tawny Owl in the meadows:

On a different night, the same camera caught an Owl in flight along the hedgerow:

We have a few perches up around the meadows and a Kestrel has been using the one in the ant paddock every day:

On several occasions she has caught voles from here but this is the best photo that I can offer of this:

Of course, it is not very helpful when the bird stands on the camera rather than on the perch:

One more photo of a Kestrel for your consideration:

The camera at the hide pond got this shot of a Heron having a bad hair day:

With frog spawning time fast approaching, we will need to bring the scarecrow out soon to keep Herons away from the temptingly large concentration of frogs that is expected.

Magpies are very obvious at the moment. There are ten of them in this tree and I absolutely hate to see so many:

Magpie bathing
Magpie with what I think is a Blue Tit

We have been outside working in the winter sunshine this week and I have twice had a male Sparrowhawk glide right past me at hip height as he patrols the hedgerow for potential small bird prey.

Action shot. Male Sparrowhawk with Magpie exiting left
The Sparrowhawk that we have been seeing a lot of in the meadows

January is the time of fox mating and I am certainly noticing the foxes going around in pairs much more than they normally do. The male sticks close by the vixen until she is ready to mate:

One of these foxes looks like a prancing show pony
It looks like the time is not yet quite right

The badgers are in their winter torpor, when they slow down to conserve energy. They are still seen on the cameras every night but just not for very long. But, even so, this badger has managed to get herself very muddy indeed:

There has been a bit of bedding collection:

A vertical hole that appeared last year, and that we thought was a ventilation shaft, has now been dug out into a proper tunnel entrance:

We intend to get a camera on this because I am really interested to see what other animals live alongside the badgers and make use of the opportunities that these diggings and tunnels create.

There is a large flock of over a hundred House Sparrows enjoying the winter feed we are putting down on the strip. The contented cheeping emanating out of the hedgerow from these birds can be heard far and wide and brings me such joy:

At one point three juvenile Herring Gull came down to the feeding cages:

Chuckles, our adult male who considers these meadows his own, was seriously displeased by this development:

Yellowhammers have been missing for several months but are just starting to be seen again now. It’s lovely to have them back:

Unusual to see Bullfinch here:

It has been an exceptional winter for the White Saddle fungus that grows in association with the roots of a Holm Oak:

The fungal fruiting bodies are such weird contorted things:

In the fragile sunshine this week we became aware of the languorous buzz of winter-generation Buff-tailed Bumblebees making their way to and from what flowers are available in the garden:

Enjoying the Mahonia in the garden

The nice weather has lured us out, too, to work in the allotment and we have finally got round to weeding it and applying a cosy blanket of garden compost, ready for the worms to pull down into the soil. I feel that the allotment is now poised to begin another fruitful year of vegetable growing when the time comes:

This snail graveyard near the comfrey patch is evidence that a Song Thrush has been helping us out with natural pest control in the allotment:

The job of weeding and mulching the new hedgerow has, at last, been finished as well. What a relief to have ticked that one off:

One advantage of the short January days is that I am more likely to be up and about with my camera at sunrise. We have had some corkers recently:

First light over the wild pond
The sun appearing behind an offshore supply ship that spent a few days with us recently

The cameras in the wood are less exposed than in the meadows, but still have been similarly affected by the January weather.

I continue to delight in seeing the Woodcock at night:

Three Woodcock in the photo (one just seen in the background top left)

A group of Fieldfare has been coming in to use this pond at dusk every night:

A pair of Bullfinch come to the wood each spring to breed and they seem to be here already. Here is the female…

…and the male:

Just before Christmas this strange looking ship caught our eye. It looks half super-yacht and half cargo vessel:

She is the Frank Bonefaas and, at 119m long, is one of the infamous super-trawlers that have controversially been licensed to fish in UK ‘protected’ waters. We have read all about these vessels but had never seen one before.

Our son and his girlfriend, continuing their world trip, spent a few weeks over Christmas in Costa Rica and have now moved on to Columbia. Here are a few of photos that they sent us from glorious Costa Rica – we have been there ourselves and would love to return one day:

Central American paper wasp (Apoica pallens). These insects are nocturnal but during the day they take up this extraordinary defensive position, circling their nest to see off any intruders
Hoffman’s Two-toed Sloth, with only two claws on its front paw
Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth, with three front claws. This is a male with that characteristic patch of orange and black on his back

I had set myself the challenge of getting Hyacinths flowering in time for Christmas. I bought the specially-prepared bulbs but then planted them up too late last autumn, and so it wasn’t until early January that they came into flower and filled the house with their wonderful fragrance:

However, it turns out that this was much better. The chaos of Christmas had all been cleared away and packed back up into the loft and a brand new year was beginning, ushered in on a wave of the most uplifting scent of spring flowers.

3 thoughts on “January Days

  1. Hyacinths look and smell so Beautiful. πŸ™‚
    I work as a cleaner in a school and every day at dusk you can hear all the sparrows chattering to each other in the hedgerows. They are so noisy that one teacher actually thought that one of the caretakers ( a keen birdwatcher) was playing birdsong over the tannoy. Ha! I knew better of course. πŸ™‚

    1. Those Sparrows are SO noisy, it’s lovely. I read into it that they are contented and relaxed and having an idle chat with each other to pass the time of day and I hope that I am right!

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