News for January, February, March 2013
28th March, Thursday, It  is still cold, about 3C today, maybe a bit higher when the sun came out for a while. On the way through the Rec, I heard and saw a Yellowhammer and a Dunnock, singing on the top of the hedgerow. And across the football pitches were many Fieldfares and Starlings looking for food. Obviously in this cold weather the Fieldfares are in no hurry to go to their summer quarters in Iceland and northern Europe.

The fields are still very wet and its best to wear wellington boots. I walked around looking for any signs of Blackthorn in blossom, but there was none anywhere. Even the odd Celendine I had seen a week or so earlier had either closed up, or been eaten as again none were to be seen. However in the Jackdaw I found one or two White Violets under the hedge. (below left), while in the pond, it looks as if  Marsh Marigold is going to flower. (below right).

Picture of White VioletPicture of  pond plant

The pond was just about clear of ice, the only signs of life were the odd Water Boatman coming to the surface for air. But in the more sheltered ditches under hedges, there was still quite thick ice, a reminder of the freezing temperatures we have experienced overnight for quite some time.
In the hedges in Old Churchfurlong a Hazel bears a few small catkins, below left, while in various places Ash shoots have buds on, ready to burst into leaf when conditions permit, below right.

Picture of Hazel CatkinsPicture of hawthorn buds
This time last year was very dry, now it is very wet, a reminder that Nature has a way of evening things out.

24th March, Sunday, Today, the temperature has been freezing all day, with a cold east wind. On Friday snow fell, and a little more on Saturday, which left about an inch of snow on the Reserve fields. The forecast is cold during the day with overnight frost untill next weekend when it is predicted to become warmer.
14th March, Wednesday,
its still cold, but today was a nice sunny day, nothing is growing much yet, but there are welcome signs of spring, with the first Celandine seen (below left), and in the hedge the Hawthorn is starting into growth, (below right).

Picture of celandinePicture of hawthorn buds

picture of alder catkins

Near the pond this Alder tree has catkins on it at present, the male flowers are the large catkin, while the female ones are the small red cone shaped ones a little higher up. This tree also has seed pods from last year on it.

26th February, Tuesday, since the last report the weather has been cold, the last few days being about 2C daytime and a little lower overnight, consequently not much is growing, and do you blame it. The pond is a full to the brim, the fields still water logged. However the weather has been dry for a few dull cloudy days, which is a relief.
7th February, Thursday,
Suddenly the weather got warmer and the snow promptly melted, we enjoyed a few warmer days, before the colder weather returned. The Rec and the Reserve were so wet, that for a while wellingtons were needed to venture into the area.
However by today the ground was a little dryer, a bit frosted which helped. And there are things ready to start growing, as evidenced by the buds on the rose seen near the pond.
buds on rose ready to grow

And this view of the lichen on an old log gives some idea of the air quality locally.
litchen on log

25th January, Friday, We have had about 4 inches of snow over the last week, the picture of the frozen pond was taken on Thursday 17th, which was a cold frosty day with a thick coating of hoar frost over everything.
frozen pond
The temperature over the last week has been around freezing during daytime, and between -1C and -6C overnight.

5th January, Saturday,
After one of the wettest years on record, the reserve is water logged, muddy, and you are advised to wear wellingtons if you visit, I squelched around in my waterproof walking shoes.

picture of flooded fields

The pond is full nearly to overflowing, so all the fears last April in the dry weather that it would dry out, were not fullfilled, as all the rain since then has kept its level up. Water boatmen are still active, coming to the surface every now and again for air.

picture of pond

Alan was busy planting some wild flowers that he has grown from seed ready to flower this year. Not many birds were to be seen while I was there, but Fieldfares and Redwings have been seen in the area, as they overwinter here before returning in the spring to their summer breeding grounds in Iceland, Northern Scandinavia and Russia.

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