Saturday, 19 January 2013

19th January - Where It's So White As Snow

Early morning the garden was once again busy, but this morning there were two birds present that I did not see yesterday.  Both had different styles of feeding.  The Coal Tit was in and onto the feeders, quickly grab a seed and off.  It never gave me the chance to photograph it, but the other, a pair of Collared Doves were more than happy to sit on the feeder and work there way through the seed.

They must have been there since dawn, because the feeder is almost empty in this photo and it was only 9.30.

We were wrapped up warm and headed up the hill towards the centre of the village.  Every tree was scanned, and any starling like bird checked thoroughly to reveal a Starling.  Still no sign of any Waxwings.  There was activity on the feeders at the end of Badger Close, but no sign of New Year's Day's Brambling.

As we walked down Telegraph Lane a Green Woodpecker flew across in front of us, strangely attracting alarm calls from smaller birds.  It didn't stop and flew off into the gardens.  The main roads are now quite clear, but the side roads remain covered in snow and very icy.  This is looking down Telegraph Lane.

We turned onto the footpath to Weathermore Lane.  The woods here were eerily silent, and all the branches covered in snow, some of the tracks had been driven down revealing the mud and water that had been there before the snow arrived.

The fields alongside the track had signs of stubble poking through, and produced an interesting scene across the field, and towards the trees.  I stopped to photograph the field, and as I did a Buzzard flew across my view.

It carried on and came to rest in a dead tree.  We walked a little further up the path, to get a better view.  It sat on the dead branch and gazed across the fields.

Walking on a little further the Buzzard remained in the tree, but the scene had changed completely.

At the start of the year I had taken pictures of the tree branches all covered in green moss.  Today the moss had been replaced with an icing sugar coating of snow.  It looked equally as impressive.

Further down the lane the trees close in on the path, and with the snow coating the branches this produces a white corridor around the tracks.

The cows in the field were being fed, and as they gathered around the hay a Robin moved between their feet pecking at food that they turned up with their hooves.  As I watched the robin I noticed a Lapwing flying in the field but close to the trees.  I lent across the hedge and managed to find it in the field.

The cattle had obviously been keeping close to the hedge and had used the trees for shelter.  As a result the snow had been cleared away in places and this was an the attraction to a small flock of Fieldfare.  We first heard them in the trees, then we saw them in the field.  They are a very handsome thrush, and their plumage reminds me of a West Ham or Aston Villa football kit.

As I watched the Fieldfare I noticed a smaller bird feeding around the grass.  It was a Meadow Pipit, and there were in fact two present.

At the end of the track we checked the field again, to see if there was anything else.  The Lapwing had now moved to the middle of the field, and as I looked at it Helen pointed out a small flock of four more Lapwings flying over.

We took the bridleway through Lords Wood.  The snow had not been walked on, and the only sign of any presence was the footprints of a Pheasant and Roe Deer.  The dominant trees in the wood are conifers, and the snow had dusted the needles making them appear a completely different colour.  Against the grey sky they looked very impressive.

The wood like in Weathermore was very quiet, no bird song, only a quick glimpse of a Wren as flew low over the snow to disappear into a gap between the snow and the grass tussocks.  Along Kitcombe we came across a couple of Robins that were guarding over turned leaf litter and watching to see if we turned up a little morsel.

Before we set out across the field we stopped for a cup of coffee.  The field was completely white with only the odd track disturbing the perfection.  Away in the distance one tree in the Maryanne plantation was covered in snow, and against  the dark background of the wood, and the perfect snow in the foreground, it made for a gorgeous scene.

We walked along the road towards Newton Farm, and as we walked past the barn we paused to check the owl box.  I saw something move in the box, and so did Helen, the only problem was I swear mine was predominantly white, and Helen felt it was more brown.  The only thing we did agree on is that we saw something.  So was it a Barn Owl, or maybe a Little Owl?

A little further on a Buzzard flew across the field quite low and the reflection from the snow lit up the under side beautifully.

As it made its way across the field it upset the Rooks feeding amongst the snow and stubble.

We walked down the hill towards Kitwood Lane past the Newton Plantation.  The beech trees here did not seem to be as covered in snow as the other wood we had walked through.  However at the edge of the wood as we came down the hill the trees were covered in snow, and it looked very impressive against the buff colour of the grasses at the edge of the field.

There had been plenty of track along the path.  The Roe Deer are easy, as are the human footprints and the pet dogs.  We though the tracks with two long marks together were Rabbits, but as we got closer to the bottom of the path a Hare ran across in front of us.  It happened quickly and we were not able to relocate it.  We found the tracks and the ones we had been seeing must have been those of Hare and not Rabbits.  This was the first Hare of the year, and the first for quite a while, so we decided to stop, have a coffee and wait to see if it came back.

The Hare did not return, but we were entertained by a pair of Bullfinch, and this lovely view looking back along the path we had just walked down.

We made our way carefully along the bridleway, we couldn't find any more Hares, but there were plenty of tracks.  Once again the fields were completely covered with snow, and it was producing a perfect carpet.  The sky was as white as the snow, and this meant it was very difficult to discern where the snow ended and the sky began.  No where was this as confusing as with these pylons that seem to be floating in the sky.  Pylons can be an eye sore, but there are times, as I have found around the patch when they can produce a very impressive scene.

After taking this photograph we turned around and noticed the floating trees behind us.  This is the edge of Dogford wood, with the snow dusted trees contrasting against the grey sky, and snow covered field.

The rest of the walk along the bridleway was difficult.  We alternated between the centre and the edge of the track to avoid the muddy ditches.  Finally we came out on Lye Way, and headed towards the pond. 

The pond was frozen as you would expect, and other than the odd Blue Tit, and Crow flying over, as quietest as anywhere we had been today.  The only bird life of interest was a set of tracks that obviously belonged to a Heron.  It is difficult to discern size here but believe me they belong to a Heron.

I have seen a Heron here, but they are not common.

You can always guarantee that a frozen pond with a good covering of snow will always produce a nice winter scene.

We left the pond and took the footpath into Old Down.  The other woods had looked impressive in the snow, but Old Down looked absolutely stunning.  It looked like Disney had wanted to use it for a film scene, and had sprayed foam everywhere.  The trees were covered, the branches were covered, everything seemed to be covered.  Unfortunately photographs don't do it the justice, but this one gets close.  It was like walking into Narnia.

The scenes were as impressive looking out across the Desmond Paddocks.  This is one of our favourite views, and it looks wonderful what ever season.

Once again the wood was quiet other than the odd Wren.  At the west end scanning across the fields produced nothing of interest, but once again the snow in the filed, and up in the trees produced another wonderful scene.

The paths in the wood are still very muddy, and with the snow cover it was difficult going avoiding a sudden wet boot.  We came out on to the main track and headed towards the Brislands entrance.  Looking back along the path I recalled the thick and dense vegetation that almost obscured the path in the summer, where did it all go?

We walked back along Brislands, sticking to the centre of the road where the snow was soft enough to allow a less strenuous walk.  We paused to look back down the lane.  It always seems to produce a different view, and today with the snow lined trees and hedges it was yet another composition.

While there had not been that much wildlife about to find, it had been a lovely walk, with the opportunity to see the patch truly covered in snow.


  1. Wonderful photographs as usual. Just thought that you'd like to know that we had a pair of Crossbills in our garden, in the Larch trees towards the top of Reads Field

  2. Hi Simon, that is a great sighting, I have been checking those larches all day, no sign yet.

  3. Thanks Chris. If you have an email or contact number I can let you know if anything exciting appears again. We had badgers in the garden last year. We've been here for 20 years and in the past amongst the more common garden birds have had Siskins, Tree Creepers, a Brambling and a Spotted Flycatcher but alas not for many years now. Have you been to Thursley Common a local favourite of ours?

  4. Heard them before but not seen them here. Just seen a Green Woodpecker from our bedroom window going around the trees at the top of Reads Field

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