Changing Seasons – February

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.

Not a long-tailed tit, but a cheeky blue tit instead.

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.

Trink Dairy

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.

The beautiful iridescent wing of the starling

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.

EDIT: 28 February @ 14:00
After blizzard like conditions this morning, here is Alice (and a Cornish Palm) in the sunshine and snow.

The Changing Seasons | February


  1. Tish Farrell says:

    Lovely post, Jude – words and pix. February so well captured, from unexpected chills to hopeful signs of spring. We’ve got quite a dusting of snow here in Wenlock this morning. Very strange flakes though. Wafting about in all directions.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Very cold here too Tish, but only a flutter of flakes, supposed to hit us tonight I think. Garden looking very sad. 😦

      1. Tish Farrell says:

        I’m not even looking at mine today.

        1. Heyjude says:

          Spoke too soon. Just had a complete whiteout, snow coming from every direction and settled very quickly on the frozen ground. Oh, well, what survives, survives.

        2. Tish Farrell says:

          Fingers crossed.

  2. beetleypete says:

    I like magpies too. Julie is superstitious and ‘salutes’ them every time.
    Winter has arrived with a vengeance here. Snow for the last three days, and very heavy falls last night. Blizzard this morning as I type; roads closed all over Norfolk, and not much chance of driving anywhere in Beetley.
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    1. Heyjude says:

      My son does that too. I’d never heard of it, but every time we saw a solo magpie he would salute it. Sounds pretty grim your way, good job you don’t have to go out for work, but I guess Ollie will still expect his walk. Very cold here, my plants are all sulking 😦

      1. beetleypete says:

        I don’t mind taking Ollie out in it, but we certainly won’t be able to get anywhere else. 🙂

        1. Heyjude says:

          Whiteout here now. Obviously we haven’t moved far enough south 😀

  3. pommepal says:

    Such unpredictable weather all over the world. Hope your fragile signs of spring can survive the beast from the east. The colours of the starlings wing are so beautiful. I’m sure he could feel your sympathy for him

    1. Heyjude says:

      Felt so helpless, but I knew I couldn’t save him. Thought that at least I could show how beautiful they are.

  4. Joanne Sisco says:

    Your February has been just as topsy-turvy as mine! I guess that’s the nature of this month … although mine didn’t involve violent death. I know it is the way of nature, but it is still disturbing.

    We’ve been hearing about the frigid weather in Europe and snow in the UK. I thought about you and wondered if you had snow cover. Thanks for giving me my answer 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      Yep. Still snowing, though I have just seen a glimpse of sun!

      1. Joanne Sisco says:

        Woohoo – for you. Sad for me, because we’re forecasted to get 10-15 cm of snow tomorrow night 😕

        1. Heyjude says:

          I moved south to avoid this kind of weather. Seems not south enough! Though even in the south of France they have experienced -7 degrees.

  5. Tish Farrell says:

    Good addition that snow photo. Your corner of Cornwall does indeed look beautiful.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Not sure the plants will think so!

  6. Su Leslie says:

    What a month! Your photos are wonderful and capture in such detail what’s going on around you. I especially love the sunsets and the bird shots –even the starling wing — though it makes me sad to think of it. Good on you for giving comfort in those last minutes.

    It so strange to see blue skies, snow and palm trees. I hope the weather warms up soon.

    I hadn’t realised the “counting crows” rhyme was so old. I know it mainly as a song lyric (Murder of One) by the band Counting Crows.

  7. Sue says:

    Plenty going on, then….

    1. Heyjude says:

      Well, it was…

  8. Snow! It’s so pretty. Your magpies are completely different to ours. Do yours get nasty during nesting season? Ours become territorial and swoop anyone who comes too close. It’s a very unpleasant experience.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I seem to have a pair of magpies who come into the garden to feed. Last year they brought three youngsters with them, one which probably died as it had no tail feathers and struggled to fly. I don’t know if this pair are the youngsters or the original ones, but they are quite friendly. If I go outside they just fly off. Willy Wagtail is the bully here 🙂

      1. Our magpies are lovely out of nesting season, and if they get to know you they don’t swoop then either. It’s the poor unsuspecting visitor who gets a nasty surprise. We have a magpie family who lives in our street. They do the rounds every morning on the same route. They are such creatures of habit.

        1. Heyjude says:

          Haha… that explains why they keep coming back to my garden then 🙂

  9. Elizabeth says:

    After endlessly whining about our never ending rain and snow, I stepped outside just now and saw a few leaves of our hollyhocks pushing through the dirt. Apparently part of our yard has finally thawed. Here starlings are a real invasive species. Are they in balance with other birds where you are?

    1. Heyjude says:

      The starlings appear in the winter months so I am not sure where they come from. They don’t normally come into my garden and seem to live happily with the corvids and the garden birds.

      1. Elizabeth says:

        Ours crowd out many of the songbirds. They were introduced here from England, I think, so didn’t occur naturally.

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