Well, after my ramblings about the exceptionally mild weather in my previous blog post, things have turned altogether more wintry, haven't they? In fact, so far in 2016, the temperature has barely made it in to double figures here at Winkworth. Whilst this may come as a bit of a shock to some of the plants and animals that were tricked into thinking spring had arrived early, the good news is it has also turned drier in recent days and there's been plenty of beautiful crisp sunshine to enjoy.
Come and enjoy the arboretum while the sun lasts; it really is looking stunning at the moment.
Birds-wise, it's been a rather quiet start to the year so far with nothing massively out of the ordinary to report. Saying that, the year got off to a good start with a Raven circling and calling over Bluebell Wood on New Year's Day, when there was also a Marsh Tit calling along the Spring Walk.
On 7th January I heard a Brambling calling near the tearoom towards the end of the day. Also on the 7th it was nice to see a handsome drake Pochard back on Rowe's Flashe Lake. It was a little too distant for my camera to capture but luckily John Rowland was on hand and got some great photos.
Off he goes!
The wintering Kingfisher is still around although I've only heard it a couple of times so far this month.
On the 6th I noted the first Water Rail of the year calling in the Phillimore Wetland.
Bullfinches remain numerous and I've heard one singing along the Spring Walk on sunny days recently, but Redwing, Fieldfare and Siskin numbers seem to have dropped off a little lately.
I've recorded four raptor species here this month, with Buzzard and Kestrel the most frequently seen hanging around in the trees, while Sparrowhawk and Red Kite are rather less common and often soaring overhead.
Despite the cold snap, the spring feelings amongst the bird life here continue to increase, with Chaffinch, Collared Dove, Treecreeper and Coal Tit amongst many species now starting to sing, while drumming Great Spotted Woodpeckers are becoming a more commonly heard sound with each day.
I mentioned last time about the bare trees and shrubs enabling better viewing of our resident Roe Deer and this has been proven in the last few days as I've had some very close encounters indeed while doing the morning site checks. There are often two or three hanging about on the slopes between the Owl Bench viewpoint and Sorbus Hill. They can a bit hard to spot against the background of dead bracken but if you are quiet and patient you may be lucky enough to get as close as this.