Tuesday, 16 February 2016

January Brings the Snow.....

....but it didn't, so shall we get it this month?  Here in the East Midlands we have only woken once to a light sprinkling of the white stuff and it did not last long.  As I write I am looking at sunshine and frosty ground outside; I have a feeling we have not seen the back of winter yet.

There is a lot of blackthorn in the hedges locally and that is flowering already; birds are pairing up in readiness for breeding.  This week, from February 14th - 21st is National Nest Box Week.  Modern building methods and a "tidy" countryside have caused a loss of habitat for many species of bird.  Consider putting up a nesting box, even if you only have a small garden. There are many different types and sizes available; you will see it being checked out by prospective occupants and in due course can have the pleasure of watching nest-building and subsequent brood-rearing activities.

Heavy rainfall earlier in the month left water standing in fields, making ponds where no ponds should be.  Wild ducks were quick to spot them and when I went into the pony paddock I was amused to see five mallard making the most of this new feature.

A recent, and not entirely welcome, visitor to the bird feeders, has been the sparrowhawk  He comes at around noon, when the bluetits and other small birds are feeding.  Sitting in the damson tree he is well-disguised and can dart out and scoop up any bird who is not aware of his presence.  The birds learn quickly, though and find safety amongst the tangle of branches where the sparrowhawk cannot make a quick grab.  His strategy has been to dive at them repeatedly until they tire and are then not quick enough to avoid him.  It is fascinating to watch and although I would prefer not to see the capture, it is nature at work and not for me to interfere.

The evenings still seem quite long so it was no hardship to attend a meeting of the Women's Institute this month.  Jane Streeter, proprietor of The Bookcase, in Lowdham, gave an interesting talk entitled, appropriately, "More Than a Book Shop"  From a very small beginning the shop has evolved to develop a wide range of activities, thereby extending it's appeal to a much greater number of local supporters, not simply to readers.  The best known is probably the Festival in June but events throughout the year include film shows in the Village Hall (complete with popcorn), First Friday talks in the Methodist Chapel, by writers, collectors and others with special interests.  I am looking forward to the first weekend in March when a number of films based on books are to be shown.  It will be difficult to chose which ones to see but if you are staying at The Mews there is certain to be something of interest to you - a perfect chance to widen your horizons.