Golden Winter Days

We’ve had some spectacular sunrises this week. The skies have been mostly clear, which has made for cold nights and mild days. And the sunrises, oh, the sunrises, have painted the skies in pinks and golds.

Sunrise over Davan

Sunrise over Davan

Sunrise

Sunrise

At this time of year, on the slightly misty mornings, the light seems to flow, slow and gold, into all the hollows and hidden places. The sun touches the hills a good 15-20 minutes before it reaches the lochs.

Icy Loch Davan

Icy Loch Davan

 Frosty birches

Frosty birches

Minus 5 on Friday morning

Minus 5 on Friday morning

Frosty bracken

Frosty bracken

Frosty hogweed

Frosty hogweed

When it’s misty like it was today, you can look directly at the sun. Normally, that’s not advisable- at best you’ll get purple spots in your vision for ages, at worst you’ll damage your eyes. But today was one of those rare days when you can see the golden ball that is out nearest star rise over the loch. Kind of odd, in a way, to see something as tiny as teal in the foreground and as something big as a star in the background.

Sunrise over Loch Davan

Sunrise over Loch Davan

Our nearest star, rising over the hills

Our nearest star, rising over the hills

Last weekend’s snow melted rapidly this week. It always looks sad when it goes, all mucky and patchy. But at least folk had been having fun while it lasted!

The snow id going-fast!

The snow is going-fast!

The melted snow has made all the braches dripping wet

The melted snow has made all the braches dripping wet

Wet pine needles

Wet pine needles

Hardly any snow on Morven on Monday, in spite of being a lot on Saturday

Hardly any snow on Morven on Monday, in spite of being a lot on Saturday

The wind hasn’t done too much damage, we’re glad to say. We’ve only found one, not-very-large tree that needed cleared up.

This tree has snapped off over the path

This tree has snapped off over the path

All cleared up!

All cleared up!

In spite of the cold weather, the wildlife has sensed the year turn and there are signs of spring creeping in. The mistle thrushes are in good voice already, and great tits are prospecting for nest holes.

The great tits are nest prospecting and calling on the sunny days.

The great tits are nest prospecting and calling on the sunny days.

We also heard our first woodpeckers drumming today (20th Jan). The males are already marking out their territories, often using a dead or hollow tree for extra sound.

Great spotted woodpecker

Great spotted woodpecker

However, some other birds are concentrating of feeding, rather than thinking about breeding yet. Small flocks of bullfinch can often be seen, picking their way through the frost-blackened remains of the rowan berries.

Bullfinch eating the few remaining rowan berries

Bullfinch eating the few remaining rowan berries

Male bullfinch

Male bullfinch

Bullfinch eating rowans

Bullfinch eating rowans

Wrens, too, are just concentrating on survival. You have to, when you only weigh about 10 grams. But, in spite of its tiny size, the wren is the king of birds in several mythologies and its Dutch name is winterkoninkje, the little winter king.

Wren

Wren

Another bird that features in a lot of mythology is the raven. We don’t often see these here, but a “quork, qourk” call heralded a fly-past by the UK’s biggest crow.

Kronk! Raven flying over the reserve.

Kronk! Raven flying over the reserve.

We’ve been taking advantage of the reasonable weather to get a few jobs done out on-site. One of these is starting to dispose of the big pile of wire that Duncan has been clearing up. We’ve spent what feels like far too much time loading it onto the trailer. It’s horrible stuff- anything it can catch on, it will, and does, and it takes forever to separate. Still, we’re getting there…and I, for one, will be delighted to see the back of it. But it is nice to know that no more deer or owls will die on now-defunct fencing….no matter how many times we curse it!

The pile of wire is starting to go

The pile of wire is starting to go

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