A frosty morning, with many of the bare trees along the lane crowned with a magpie, like the fairy on top of the Christmas tree. These, though, were scanning the frozen fields and hedgerows for any sign of life.
On the common frost rimed the grasses and leaves, outlining every tiny detail.
It was misty all the way to Devon, with the Berkshire Downs and Dartmoor equally just vague shapes in the greyness.
In Somerset, a large flock of starlings swirled high across the road, dark against the greyness, bands of birds twisting around each other to form an endlessly changing shape.
Further on, a pair of electricity lines were annotated by several more starlings, briefly at rest.
Just beyond them another bird, a kestrel, was resting, high on a tree beside the dual carriageway, the faint light colouring its breast feathers as it preened.
Two young greater spotted woodpeckers come to feed on the nut holders on the edge of the Dartmoor cottage garden. One favours an upside-down position, the other an upright one.
Thick fog lay all across the moor until we reached Tavistock. In pine plantations the tree trunks stood like an army against the greyness, and a tree that had fallen obliquely looked like a sharply defined barrier. Solitary oaks stood out at various points, their stretching arms reaching towards the missing sky, the silver lichen on their branches vivid in the greyness.
A grey morning, with the ragged tops of darker grey clouds racing by beyond Dartmoor’s Meldon Hill, looking like a ghostly crowd rushing to a sale.
A single blackbird perched in a lichened bush on the edge of the terrace garden, remaining quite motionless in the fog for the ten minutes or so that I was within sight of him.
One of the young woodpeckers edged, upright, around the feeder in the Dartmoor cottage garden, his head cocked quizzically as he studied the nuts within.
The edge of the golf course is rimmed with grass paths threading through gorse stands and hazel thickets. Strolling along one path, their backs dark in winter colouring, were a group of fallow deer hinds. They took their time, feeling safe from view, as they browsed on the branches and nibbled the grass.
It looks like the congregation of small white sails from a distance, gathered near the far bank of the canal beyond the narrowboats as I approached the town. But it was a group of swans, upending themselves to dabble in the mud and water below the surface.
A tern flew over the allotments beside the field, heading for the canal. Every winter for some years now, we’ve seen a tern patrolling the water between the town and country locks.
Bella, the female blackbird in my back garden, stood on the water butt to feed from the seed holder that hangs above it.p>Back to top
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