The Return of Winter


How a day can change everything? Sunday it was so cold. In this country we certainly get all four seasons, but do we have to have them all in the same 24 hour period? The sky was grey and cloudy and a bitter lazy wind was blowing. A lazy wind cannot be bothered to go around you it merely passes through you. The five layers of clothing I was wearing offered me little protection from its chilly blast. As the weather looked so threatening we decided to go to Attenborough Nature Reserve.

Accordingly after a leisurely breakfast we pottered down in the car taking out scopes and bins. The area around the nature centre was packed with dog walkers, amongst them parents with pushchairs and toddlers small children on bikes and wheelchairs were everywhere. As we weaved our way in and out of the crowds an adult on a bike would hurtle past worrying me about the possibility of hitting a child.

From the bridge near the nature centre, a Cettis warbler was singing. We stationed ourselves beside the bridge and stared fixedly at the reeds until we were rewarded with an excellent view of him, low in the reeds, clinging onto a reed stem, as he fanned his tail for support and sang so loudly you could hear it from the duck feeding area. That was a new sighting for the year. A couple of Red Crested Pochard males swam near the bridge to the nature centre another first sighting for the year.

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I photographed the Egyptian geese

and the Pochard as well as a number of other ducks.

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I then went to talk to a couple who have bravely set up a gazebo under which they were attempting to make willow sculptures. We briefly considered buying a willow bittern so we could plant it near the pond in the garden and then phone you with the news that a bittern was seen near our pond. Amusing as we found this idea we realised you would be considerably annoyed by our childish behaviour. Do you remember your response to the stone otters in Scotland and how angry you were that we had conned you?

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Anyway I spent some time making a willow heron. I found it quite enjoyable and relaxing. The heron did look as if he had just eaten a large meal once I had finished. Here is the heron when I left. I hope you have a vivid imagination as you will need it.

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From the hide we saw a very smart Redwing all the usual ducky suspects. We just missed a Water Rail in front of the hide and had all three common tit species on the tree. The feeders have been taken down as rats have become a problem. We found a flock of Fieldfare on the other side of the river Trent. One Fieldfare alone was in the Wheatear field.

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The  invisible fieldfare

The plumage he had was marvellous so pristine I am assuming he was on his way north to breed. Again too far away for a decent photo here is the one I took but not great. Perhaps birds can detect changes in air pressure that we are unable to detect, for as we reached the furthest point of the short circuit it began to rain not particularly heavily but with determination. We were so far round that to return was as tedious as following the circuit.

Therefore we pressed on I found an elder bush in leaf.

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Likewise I saw willow buds just breaking.

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Along a hedge the blackthorns were just beginning to show the white of the blossom in their buds. Within a week or two they will be a mass of white blooms. We met someone who had seen brimstone butterfly, alas no butterflies fluttered for us. The rain increased persistently, although the wind had abated, we were both getting damp and chilled. The reserve was now deserted. We walked back to the nature centre alone on the path, no dogs snuffled around our ankles, no children crashed into us on their bikes we were able to stroll down the path as we pleased, there were no pushchairs to avoid, no speeding cyclists to endanger us and no dog leads to trip us up. I fully expected to see tumbleweed blowing through. It was amazing how a shower can clear a nature reserve. I called past the willow sculptors and put more willow twigs into the heron, which was looking rather chubby and not the svelte shape drawn on the plan. I made most of the back end.

“What did you do today mummy?”

“I made the backside of a heron dear.”

We bought a calendar for work each from the shop and came home for a hot lunch.

We had taken over two and a half hours, seen 49 species and two that were new for the year.

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