This week has certainly felt like a taster of the winter yet to come. It’s been cold, grey, wet, sunny and frosty. We’ve had rain every day, bar one, for a fortnight, and everything is soaking. The burn coming down through the Vat is high and the lochs are flooding the woods at their edges.
When I see the reserve with a lot of water on it, it always makes me realise what an important role places like this play in preventing flooding elsewhere. Yes, the lochs get bigger. Yes, in extreme conditions, the footpaths flood. But that’s not a big deal compared with water thundering through someone’s living room. The water that is effectively ‘stored’ on the NNR isn’t getting into places we really don’t want it to. As it’s likely the climate will get wetter, flood management will become more and more of an issue.
Especially when it felt like the rain would never stop at the beginning of the week! It was relentlessly grey and wet on Monday and Tuesday.
We were very grateful to see the sun on Wednesday…the first time for several days!
But when the sky cleared and the moon came out, the temperature plummeted. Appropriate, I suppose – one of the names for the November full moon is the ‘Frost Moon’.
Unfortunately, that did rather mean taking your life in your hands on the roads to get to work. There’s a mythical creature called a ‘gritter’ but unfortunately they don’t roam the small roads I use! But the cold did mean the reserve was a frosty, sparking wonderland.
One of the things I always regret is you can’t capture scintillation on camera – the way the light moves as you do, throwing sparkles and rainbows off ice prisms. The camera never does this justice and the nearest you can come is to play with the star filter in the camera settings.
Most of the leaves have gone now and the reserve is starting to look pretty monochrome. The main splash of colour in the woods now comes form the bracken, which glows where the sun hits it.
The roe deer are now in their dark brown winter jackets. They have lost the red russet coat of their summer rut.
And the berries have almost gone. Those that haven’t been eaten are now wizened and blackened by frost. They look thoroughly unappetizing to us, but are still edible to birds, especially those that like bullfinches that will eat the kernels of the seeds inside the berries. If you’re really lucky, you’ll come across these lovely birds mumbling over their food as they extract the seeds…and you can get a really nice view as the leaves are off the trees. Just watch out for icy patches!