Tag Archives: trees

Saturday Nature Round-up

sprouting acorn in fallen oak leaves
I have taken the theme of “nature” as the thread that binds this post together, but there are several strands.

Today is Day 1 of the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch weekend. I posted earlier in the week about this – and there’s still time for you to take part in the biggest wildlife survey in the world if you can find an hour to spare on Sunday.

This morning we counted ‘our’ birds … 10 jackdaws. To us they really are ‘our birds’ as they were born and raised in the old chimneys of our house.

It’s a pity ‘our’ starlings didn’t put in an appearance today, as seemingly unbelievably, starlings are becoming less common than you might think. Perhaps because it was not too cold, they were evidently visiting further flung pastures today. The starlings live in our flat-roof, above our youngest son’s bedroom. They nest there and hide out there too when it’s really cold. I did hear one of them talking on the chimney earlier in the week.

As this afternoon turned wet and squally, it seemed a good time to browse other blogs to see how nature was faring elsewhere. As a self-confessed nature nut, I must say how heartened I was to see just how many other fellow bloggers care about our natural world.

It was wonderful to see Suzy Blue’s flowering snowdrops on her Country Diary blog. Seeing snowdrops always makes me feel Spring is not too far around the corner. We have some snowdrops that grow right outside of our front door – but no sign of flowers for us just yet on our windswept northern hillside.

We live surrounded by wonderful woods. I love trees – from tiny sprouting acorns to gnarled and ancient beauties. I was fascinated today when I learned about an amazing old Irish hedgerow in a post called “Bright Skies and Dark Hedges” on Littlest Allsorts.

I am always intrigued by the ways we as humans have shaped our ‘natural’ landscapes. This avenue of veritable ‘old ladies’ can be seen along a roadside near Ballymoney, Co. Antrim. If you take a peek at it you will not be surprised to hear it is not unaccustomed to photographic attention having been chosen as a film location on several occasions, including for the popular ‘Game of Thrones’.

To weave the final strand into this Nature Round-up, I want to share with you a poem I discovered today, “A Natural Curriculum” on the blog ‘wordsthatserve’. It describes to us an “alternative 3 ‘R’s”.

I really liked this poem, especially as its first verse touched on one of my own ‘pet’ subjects, litter. For me those three concepts, Respect, Resilience and Reciprocity, as represented in this poem, should act as way-markers for human-kind as we negotiate our place on this planet.

J Peggy Taylor

Wonderful Winter Woodlands

Winter walk in woodland

There’s nothing quite like a woodland walk in winter. I love the woods at all times of year, but in winter I think woodland has its own special magic.

There’s always plenty to watch out for as we wander along – and I do mean ‘wander’. Wandering allows plenty of time to absorb the atmosphere and enjoy the intricacies of the natural world.

Leafless trees stand proud in their stark winter beauty.  We notice the different colours of the twigs and branches – some purple, some orange, some green …  and some are actually brown. The golden winter sun adds its own glow, and we see pink reflections on a group of white birch trunks cast from the red larch twigs 40 feet above us.

We notice and name the numerous species of conifer trees as we pass along another path. I remind my son how to distinguish between Scots and Corsican Pine by counting the needles in each tuft.

We see the recent winter rain has turned a normally-languid-stream into a torrent, gushing on its busy way through the culvert under the road.

The next path we take is a real woodland path, carpeted with last year’s leaves and punctuated at frequent intervals by another winter woodland favourite of mine … mud!  Mud, mud, glorious mud! We squelch through some patches but decide to edge around the larger swamps where the ooze looks to be of a more dubious depth.

When we reach the pond, it looks oddly flat without its reeds, rushes and waterside flowers. We spot a few pond snails but most of the pond’s inhabitants will be resting safely in the silt at the bottom.

We noticed a number of trees with broken limbs as we walked today. The weather has certainly reminded us of its power this winter – wind and water have both caused a fair amount of damage and misery here in the UK. We’ve been lucky and have got off fairly lightly up here in the hills.

Our homeward wander takes us along one of our regular and well-known paths.  We watch the squirrels chasing through the undergrowth before darting suddenly up another tree. One sits motionless by an oak tree only a few metres away from us. We watch, the squirrel sits – we move on first.

sun and sky reflection in muddy puddle

Again we enjoy the beautiful golden winter sunshine … and more mud! The puddles in the railway cutting are full of blue sky and pink clouds overlaid with dark reflections of the winter trees.

Then, wending our way homeward, we spot a promise of Spring – flowering alder catkins.  My son took this quick shot of the catkins against the setting sun – beautiful.

Alder catkins in flower