Winter arrives!

Thursday, November 30th 2017

The cold weather of the last few days continues, and, as forecast, it was even colder first thing this morning.  Where previously the ice on the lake had just been beside the dam, the whole lake was frozen over.  Though very cold in the wind, it was still bright with both Moorhens and Mallards walking on the ice.

There was a sound of incredulity in the voice of a visitor on her phone in the Field Centre when she was told that it was snowing in Darlington when she said “but it's sunny here!”.  During this time, two of the Reserve's volunteers were finishing the work of other volunteers on Tuesday, collecting and sorting the tree tubes and stakes, then taking them to be stored.  And then the weather changed…..

The snow arrived in a few flurries in the early afternoon, before falling more thickly to settle.  There was some envy that the ponies' coats were well insulated, with the snow not melting when lying on their backs, and, despite being in an area with plenty of shelter from the wind, they looked to be enjoying the arrival of the snow.  The work they are doing is also being appeciated by a male Kestrel who regularly uses a lone Scots Pine as a vantage point with mice and voles now more exposed among the shorter vegetation.

As the snow started to settle, pupils attending the Wilderness Schooling session for the final time this year said farewell to Foxglove after coming here on Thursdays during term time since the February half term.  Their appreciation of what makes Foxglove unique came through as we listened to one group practicing a scene as newsreaders, explaining not just the habitats but how the weather affects wildlife.  The news is usually followed by the weather forecast and there has recently been some light-hearted banter between newsreaders and weather presenters about what actually constitutes Winter.  According to the weather people, we are still in Autumn until the 1st of December.  Looking out from the Wetland Hide, I couldn't help but feel that Winter must have come early, but the bonus is being able to look for the tracks of birds and mammals in the snow.


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