Saturday, 21 February 2015

The Darkling Thrush and friends

As winter continues onwards towards a hopeful Spring, we have seen some interesting visitors in our garden.  We are so pleased that we regularly see about fifteen different bird species at Hazel Cottage.  Many of the relatively new arrivals such as the sparrows and starlings have become very regular in the last months.  We are also seeing more of the collared doves.
We are both trying to learn more about birds.  I'm pretty certain I can tell the difference between the sound of a collared dove (coo-coooo-coo) and a woodpigeon (coo-coooo-coo-coo-coo).  It is all rather subtle written down like that, but more obvious when you hear it, honestly.
We were excited to see this chap the other day.  At first from a distance I thought it was a female blackbird or a starling, but it moved very differently, and had longer legs. 

Luckily he moved far closer to the back door, and for once I had the camera to hand.  Wandering around our lawn was a thrush!  We don't remember ever seeing one in our garden before, although we have often wished for a flock of them to deal with our slug and snail population.

It is always great to see a new bird in the garden.  We are also seeing a lot of what we discovered was a Black Cap these last few weeks.  He seems to be on the feeder every day now, and Mr C zoomed in madly the other day to discover him sat in a hedge with our resident robin.

Much as I have enjoyed this winter far more than the last, we are both looking forward to Spring enormously.  The days are lengthening now and the daffodil leaves are peaking above the ground, so even if Spring isn't here, it seems at least a possibility.

"Surely as cometh the Winter, I know
There are Spring violets under the snow."
-  R. H. Newell

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Fighting against nature

It has been very cold since January has changed to February.  Every day is cold and often windy, making it feel bitter and we even had a little snow yesterday.  Our wood burner has really been installed in the best possible winter.  It has made such a difference to the cosiness and warmth in our little house.

The other morning I took a photograph of the back garden and the light was very strange and blue. It seems rather apt considering how cold I felt!

"There is nothing in the world more beautiful than the forest clothed to its very hollows in snow.  It is the still ecstasy of nature, wherein every spray, every blade of grass, every spire of reed, every intricacy of twig, is clad with radiance."
William Sharp

It is so easy to want to stay at home and hibernate this time of year.  Going out of the house each morning to work has been a bit of a struggle!  We have been trying to make sure we do still go out and do things in the cold weather.  We went to visit Winchester Cathedral the other day, and in spite it being the cathedral I know best I still found some angles and features I'd not noticed before.

The Nave

Light from a window coming in onto a pillar

Guardian Angels Chapel
The cathedral was rather busy as it was an open day, but when you look upwards you can see a place of great beauty and stillness.  I've loved the guardian angels chapel for many years now, I remember being amazed at the 13th century angels heads on the roof.

This winter has been good for going on lovely wintry walks.  The frost and the mist has been rather beautiful.  Such a constrast to last winter which was windy and filled with torrential rain.

Low sunshine and shadows

Frost close up!
"Come when the rains
Have glazed the snow and clothed the trees with ice,
While the slant sun of February pours
Into the bowers a flood of light. Approach!
The incrusted surface shall upbear thy steps
And the broad arching portals of the grove
Welcome thy entering."
William Cullen Bryant, A Winter Piece