I know the clocks haven’t gone back yet but Winter is getting closer. In Killedmond we have had our second morning of frost. Not much, but enough that when you scrape your finger along the top of the car, you can push the frost away in long silvery slivers . Now that the days are getting shorter and the weather getting colder we are going to start our Wild and Wintery Walks. We plan lovely walks around the foothills of the Blackstairs and the River Barrow area. A lot of the Spring, Summer and Autumn vegetation has gone but in its place we have the stark beauty of birches, Scots Pine, Bare Beech and majestic oaks. We will see our winter migrant birds and on the River Barrow we will see duck, herons, shags and who knows what winter rarities might show up.
In the upland areas we will have a chance to see birds of prey. Hawks, such as the Sparrow Hawk, Kestrels, Buzzards and maybe even a falcon or two. We will look for Winter Chanterelles and in sheltered places marvel at the mosses and lichens on trees and stones.
Underfoot will crackle and ice will cover puddles. We will walk along green lanes looking at the great hump of Mount Leinster and the smaller more benign shape of Tom Duff Hill. We will watch clouds of swirling Starlings as they tumble in the colder skies looking for a place to roost and we will marvel as small flocks of finches seek food together as they try to survive the colder months.
It is often during November, December and January that you have an opportunity to see flocks of birds feeding together, surviving together ,during these harsher periods of weather. This morning for the very first time ,I saw a flock of Fieldfares. Our migrants from Scandinavia have arrived and very soon there won’t be a windfall left as the Fieldfares and Redwings clean up the natural larder.
Fieldfares have a loud chattery call and it is amazing how they discover juicy fruits left over in the garden .They will strip apples and pears down to nothing and then move onto the next local source of food.
I haven’t seen any Redwings yet but it won’t be long till they arrive.