Friday 1 February 2019


our favourite little patch of sunny Dorset - well, sunny most of the time
As I write on the 31stJanuary flakes of snow start to fall from a leaden sky and Sue and I are immediately reminded of last years ‘Beast from the East’.
our singing blackbird lost some of his enthusiasm

our garden nesting mallards had to delay egg laying

snipe took advantage of the warm water from springs under the garden
all birds still need to drink and song thrushes are no exception

we fed a dead rabbit to a struggling buzzard
I’m sure non of us will forget that extreme chill and though we have amber weather warnings out now and the rainfall radar map looks threatening, I’m guessing we are all hoping that this particular threat won’t be as severe as last March.

we were very sad that despite all that we did for this hungry buzzard it wasn't enough

there's beauty in the beast
our many camelias were adorned

However, that fall of snow turned our little patch of rural England into a garden of beauty and we tried to ensure it was also a welcome haven for wildlife. We have plenty of unfrozen water flowing through the garden but made sure all the bird feeders were full of seed as well.

putting out seed means we enjoy regular visits from stock doves that nest nearby but never as many as eight before

We enjoyed seeing many garden species much closer to us than is usual and though the weather was unwelcome we were able to provide for birds that were suffering in the cold.
fieldfares were attracted by the fallen apples that we had saved for them

this redwing was weak and struggling but a few good feeds by the kitchen allowed it to recover

we never tire of the beautiful snow scenes that we can look out at from our warm snug - we are very lucky
Waking today at dawn on 1stFeb reveals a magical transformation as the damp snow overnight has stuck to every small branch and our hungry birds are flocking to the feeders with enthusiasm, the RSPB coconut treats being particularly welcome.

our male great spotted woodpecker is here several times every day.
in spite of the 'Beast', enough long tailed tits survived to bring us joy this last year
bullfinches prosper on our brambles and seed

We hope that a repeat of last year is not going to happen any time soon for you may remember that the ‘Beast’ [from the east] was followed rapidly by a visit from a storm called ‘Maria’ from the west, it’s wet snow coating our garden with ice and making life almost unbearable for the birds.
this weak and cold long-tailed tit might not have survived the 'Beast' and 'Maria'

coal tits seemed to remain active and healthy
We were mighty relieved when that lot melted and we were able to return to warm spring days and enjoy flowers and warm sunshine.
we love the glorious spring blooms of camelias

It was minus eight degrees locally yesterday and too chilly for gardening but Sue and I laugh now about how in a past life I wouldn’t hesitate to head off to the far north for six weeks to film polar bears in the Arctic blast at a daily average of minus 36 degrees and I’m reminded of those frost bitten days by news of Chicago caught in a ‘polar vortex’ of minus 30.
by 'eck it was cold skidooing over the sea ice in Svalbard to film denning bears - the wind chill was a killer

the ever charasmatic polar bears kept us alert and focused on their hunting strategies

I didn’t feel the cold much in those days even if I did suffer lots of frost bite along with hypothermia twice but the mere thought of going outside now makes me shiver and put another log on the fire. I guess that means I'm past my 'sell by date'.
our regular fox has become fat on the remains of pheasants that the local shoots keep dumping on our doostep

Happy days. The snow is melting, the robins are singing, our snowdrops are up and spring is on the way …
the richly scented witch hazel is always a treat in the winter