Grey December Days

It’s not been much of a week, this week. Some weeks are just like that- not too warm, but not really cold either, not really dry, but sort of damp rather than proper rain….and the sun has never managed to do more than glimmer through the trees. 

Still damp days

Still damp days

The sun only ever managed a glimmer this week

The sun only ever managed a glimmer this week

Misty morning

Misty morning

 Even the wildlife has been keeping its head down. We’ve not been seeing much this week, but there are still nice mixed tit flocks in the wood. My favourites are the long-tailed tits, with their gentle burping calls. 

A legless long-tailed tit!

Long-tailed tit!

On one of the drizzly days, we saw this part-hoodie crow “rain bathing”. He kept tipping himself from side to side to get his “armpits” wet. 

Crow "rain bathing"

Crow “rain bathing”

The still days make sound carry for miles. A lot of it is man-made -you hear aircraft, tens of thousands of feet high. You hear the main road, two miles away. You hear bangs and clangs of trailers on the nearest farm. I often wonder how it would like if, just for an hour, you could shut off all human noise. Would it be wonderful or would the silence scare us? In terms of natural noises, you can hear the whoopers on Davan from Burn of Vat and, even a hundred yards away, you can hear a blackbird foraging! However, it is fair to say that they do forage very enthusiastically, flinging leaves around in their search for food. This female was so intent on her search she never spotted me, only feet away. 

Leaf chucking blackbird

Leaf chucking blackbird

Female blackbird

Female blackbird

With not seeing much wildlife, we’ve had to look for signs of it instead. So, go on, have a guess – who’s poo? 

Capercaillie poo

Capercaillie poo

To work out who left what deposit, you need a bit of detective work. Start with size- how big? That’ll tell you if it’s a big animal or not. This is about 2 inches long and as thick as a pencil. What colour is it? Well, it’s green, because the “depositer” has been eating pine needles. Look closely, you can see some in the poo. So, what eats pine needles and live in the pine wood? A few things do, but you may be able to narrow it down further. If there’s white stuff on it, then it’s probably a bird – the white stuff in bird poo is effectively “pee”, but birds don’t pee as water is too heavy to carry around if you fly. This is actually bird poo, and the size suggests it’s a big, pine- needle eating bird…and it’s one we are lucky to still have, the capercaillie. There are a few still roaming the woods of Deeside and long may that continue.

 Another visitor was appreciating our viewpoint the week. A red squirrel clearly thought it was the ideal place to sit and strip down a few pine cones! 

 A squirrel has been sitting on the viewpoint enjoying a pine cone

A squirrel has been sitting on the viewpoint enjoying a pine cone

A table with a view

A table with a view

The wildlife is getting hungry as winter deepens. This coal tit wouldn’t even wait for me to hang the feeder up- the black thing in top of shot is my arm!

Hungry coal tit- waiting impatiently

Hungry coal tit- waiting impatiently

We’ll leave you this week with a picture of a spring sign – one or two of the willows already have catkins peeking out. Let’s hope they don’t get too frosted!

Some willow catkins are visible already

Some willow catkins are visible already

 

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