I’ve enjoyed Luke’s recent posts and remain jealous of the time he has found to get out. His impressive shots of birds and the wonderful rutting deer have been terrific to see and read about. For my own part, snatched moments with the camera have unfortunately remained rare but all the more precious.
Late in October on my way to work on a cold and frosty morning, I headed out of Wadesmill and onto the lane that follows the Rib towards Hertford. Looking to the tree line high to my right my eye was drawn to small herd of fallow deer does, who with a couple of young fawns, were nibbling at the hedgerows and young shoots poking through after ploughing. The clear air and low direct light sharply illuminating the scene.
That first late October frosty morning was a harbinger of the pre-Christmas cold spell that has run through November and into early December. Sharp frosts patterned recently fallen leaves and their crisp shapes caught the eye in the office car park where I’ve also watched flocks of Long-tailed Tits and a Crow harrass a beautiful Sparrowhawk as it skimmed across the car roofs.
The seasonal village events describe the turning of the year and bonfire night fireworks at The Star in Standon marked Autumn to be in full swing; cold, musty, misty damp air enveloping revellers, steam rising from breath and hot-dogs as rockets sparkled and cracked high in the sky.
The longer days of the middle of the year are now but a distant memory as we, like the wildlife around us, settle into the rhythm of the colder months. Our struggle is with the traffic, disruptions and closures that cold weather brings and preparations for our mid-winter festivals, theirs the essential focus of keeping warm and finding food to stay alive.
This difficult task for the wildlife surrounding us was brought home when striking out in search of a kestrel on a Sunday morning a week or so ago, a photo I need for a project at work. Through the hedgerow a couple of hundred yards or so from the house a gathering of a couple of crows attracted my attention. A closer look revealed they were in mid stand-off with a grounded buzzard who was standing guard over the frozen corpse of a hare. The crows flew off but the buzzard persisted with his find, dragging the carcass further into the field to continue his meal. I moved on to leave him to feast in peace and pursue my own quarry. I’m glad he was more successful than I was.