January 2003
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These two birds are red leg Partridges and were photographed checking out our garden on the 31st.

The date means that they should now survive as the shooting season is now over and they have escaped the guns.

Next is this young grass snake sadly it was found dead on the lawn by the cottage.

Normally it would spend the cold winter months hibernating. It is possible that this one had been disturbed in its resting place or perhaps woke prematurely from its hibernation due to a spell of mild weather and it had either starved or been killed by the cold.

This one was about 300mm long but an adult will grow up to over 1 metre in length as webby will testify as he almost sat on an adult one which was basking itself in the sun last summer.

If you look just behind the head of the snake you can see a distinctive yellow band or ring and in some parts of the country you can hear it referred to as a "ring snake".

It is a non poisonous snake but as a defence can produce a very smelly liquid which is difficult to wash off and will not be popular with your friends.

We seldom see our snake population which also includes the Adder (also sometimes known as a viper) unlike a grass snake the adder IS poisonous, and whereas a grass snake will try to get away from you, an adder is just as likely to "stand" its ground.

They are an agile snake and if provoked can strike fast. If bitten by one you should seek medical attention as its bite has on occasion been known to prove fatal (young children are most at risk).

They can be recognised by their stocky appearance and a distinctive zigzag diamond pattern along their back which is a characteristic of this family of snakes.

Andy our Webby has been out with his camera so over to you Andy.

Thanks Phil, One of the amazing things about nature is what it can create.

Here a set of crystal "bells" has been made from ice (for a closer view roll your mouse over the image).

If you listened closely you could hear a faint jingle coming from them as the wind blew them against each other.

This months stars of the nature report are mostly birds.

Our first one is this Blue Tit (apparently the word tit originates from the Norse word for small bird).

It is a strange choice of name considering that the most striking colour is it's yellow breast.

Perhaps one of you knows how it came to get it's "Blue" name

Another bird with a striking yellow colour in its plumage is the Grey Wagtail.

It can be distinguished from its relative the Yellow Wagtail by it's grey back and longer tail.

Its other relative is the Pied Wagtail.


One of our winter visitors that webby was able to catch on his camera was this Fieldfare.

This was part of a small flock in the treetops. They migrate to this country from Scandinavia during the winter.



A little larger than a sparrow is the Corn Bunting.

They eat grain and grass seeds as well as the occasional insect.

During the winter they can gather into quite large numbers.


A common garden bird in the UK. is the Robin.

They are a fiercely territorial birds and will aggressively hold their territory throughout the year.

Although a year round resident the robin is to most people a winter bird, due in part to its common occurrence on Christmas cards and decorations.

Our final staring bird this month is also the UK's smallest.

It is one of our commonest birds although its small size can make it hard to spot.

There song is surprisingly loud for such a small bird, and serves to mark their extensive territories.

All these birds need to feed, and this juicy morsel was spotted crawling for cover.

It is a little early in the year for caterpillars and any hard frosts will not do our friend here much good at all.


Finally as you may know, the banks of the River Dane that form part of our farm boundary are a part of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, and the enviroment is supposed to be protected.

It is with a little concern therefore to find that people have been damaging the trees and the banks by sawing branches from the trees and digging out parts of the bank to form convenient "seats" these "seats" then collapse and result in increased erosion of the banks.

This damage is senseless and amounts to little more than vandlism, it must stop.


Finally, on a somewhat lighter note one of the calves has decided to exchange its head for a bucket.

It required the assistance of its two friends help remove the offending object.


See you next month PHIL.


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