Month two of my photographer’s nature journal.
February 1st was a pleasant start to the month. Blue skies, clouds and sunshine along with a bitterly cold wind. I saw eight magpies close to the house, the most I have seen at any one time. I like magpies (Pica pica). They are handsome and intelligent birds though have a bad reputation. When seen close-up their black plumage takes on an altogether more colourful hue with a purplish-blue iridescent sheen to the wing feathers and a green gloss to the tail.
“One for sorrow, Two for joy, Three for a girl, Four for a boy, Five for silver, Six for gold, Seven for a secret, Never to be told. Eight for a wish, Nine for a kiss, Ten a surprise you should be careful not to miss, Eleven for health Twelve for wealth, Thirteen beware it’s the devil himself. “
The original version was recorded in 1780 and contained only four simple lines:
“One for sorrow, Two for mirth, Three for a funeral And four for birth.”
It all went downhill on February 6th though as even this far west we had a fall of snow. Only light and barely settling on the rain-soaked ground; gone by lunch-time. Even so, an unusual sight to see Alice in a snow storm.
A walk around the lanes revealed signs of spring: Lesser Celandines (Ranunculus ficaria) opening their golden faces to the sun and daffodils forcing their way upwards. Primroses in the walls and hedgerows, red campion, periwinkle both blue and white, ferns with new fresh green growth, fat textured foxglove leaves, delicate cow parsley, spires of wild montbretia and the thick leathery disks of navelwort. And still the bare branches of the stunted trees reaching for the sky.
Driving saw me ducking for cover as a buzzard or maybe even an owl swooped over my roof (it annoys me every time I do that as obviously ducking inside the car is useless) and a near miss or two as rabbits leaped across the lane in front of my wheels.
After the snow followed a couple of weeks of rain and fog, but from 18th we had several days of calm and sunshine when the flowers appeared in abundance and the garden birds returned including a goldfinch, a thrush and three long-tailed tits who fly at such a pace you can hear the tic-tic-tic sound of their wings beating.
Clear skies revealed diamond chips studding the blackness above as the moon waxed and waned. A perfect crescent hanging in the twilight one evening.
And the dairy herd are back in their green pastures again so I can look forward to seeing them march along their track back to the farm to be milked twice a day.
On the 22nd of the month I witnessed a murder in the garden, or rather over it, as a young starling had a run-in with a large crow. The battering of wings alerted me to the crisis and I looked up to see the starling plummet into my woodland border. On investigation the poor bird was choking with blood, but no other injury that I could see. I held it in my hand, stroking the warm body as it died. I can only hope it felt some comfort.
I managed to get out into the garden on several days to do a bit of post winter tidying and check on the bulbs, before the weather changed again during the last days of the month when icy winds arrived from Siberia and the temperatures plummeted.
The sun sets further round to the west now and the colours have been different in cold clear air this month. Not many sunsets to speak of, but those we had were truly spectacular.