Wild @ Rivers - January 2016

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Diary Entry by Charmaine Cooper


Muntjac Footprints

A Muntjac wanders around the orchard's hedge before slipping into the thicket of twisted Hawthorn and Blackthorn; twigs and foliage gently rustle as it moves away. On this damp and gloomy January day the chestnut colouring of the little Wren is bright against the sombre wood of the trees as it dashes from the shelter of the hedge. The Wren crosses the footpath where the Muntjac has left its imprints in the mud, and into the neighbouring hedge.


Blackthorn Blossom

The month is warm and mild and nature is confused. Plants are pushing forth into the growing season too early; already the Blackthorn is flowering in the orchard’s hedge. Under the fruit trees the Lords and Ladies plant is beginning to unfurl its heart shaped leaves from their tightly wound cigar-like twists. The Snowdrops that grow in the scrub are slowly pushing their way up towards the light but seem behind in their development compared to the other wild flowers. Catkins on the Hazel hang limply on the branches and have not danced in the breezy sunshine and warmth of spring.


Muntjac

A clear blue sky and two Buzzards are drifting over the nursery scrub calling to each other with their plaintive mewing cry as they slowly begin to circle higher and higher into the sky. As the Buzzards drift further away their call is replaced by the loud strident tones of several Wrens hiding in the Hawthorn and long dead grass within the scrub.

The sun sinks into the horizon on a day that started cold and frosty. Deep within the nursery scrub Blackbirds are settling to their roosts with their usual noisy alarm calls. In the fast fading light the ghostly shape of a Barn Owl drifts over the scrub and begins silently to hunt. The Owl flies along the hedge line searching the grass and banks, its eyes scanning in the ever increasing gloom before stopping and hovering over something hidden in the dark foliage. Dropping suddenly the Owl vanishes from sight before emerging again and flying off, a ghostly silhouette in the darkening sky.



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