Extracts from a nature diary

I rarely make New Year’s resolutions but in 2013 I was determined to keep a nature diary. I’ve never done one before and I have no expert knowledge of nature. So it was going to be based around observations, thoughts and musings; watching the world around me as the seasons slowly progress and nature comes and goes. There are always defining moments when it comes to nature’s calendar: the arrival of apple blossom or the departure of the last swift.

Below are some extracts from the short January days. So, what have I learnt so far? That I’m still slowly finding my way and that I am starting to see the world in a different way. I’ve begun to notice the subtle changes and how the weather changes so frequently. I’ve also found that unless you write things down on the same day the details of the day begin to fade from memory and become more abstract and less precise and colourful.

As the year progresses I will publish on this blog some extracts from the nature diary. It’s a very personal and subjective process but its proving to be ultimately satisfying and rewarding.

1 January – Once the moon faded and night became day the old year, the wettest on record, felt like a distant bad dream…
3 January – A lone blackbird, on the hunt for food, in the afternoon gloom, lifted the tone as did the cackling of a distant crow…as daylight gave way to the pitch black of the Peak District.
4 January – The climb into the mist filled plateau of the moorland high above Sheffield and Manchester had a special feel, like arriving on some distant undiscovered planet.
8 January – A dramatic moody, cloud heavy, sky battled against the rising of the sun as daylight broke. Birdsong filled the morning air with notes of joy as the mild weather pointed in the direction of the slow winding and often treacherous road to spring. Daffodils played their hand early as they poked through the ground demanding warmth.
10 January – A single crow slowly flew over the rooftops to an unknown destination.
13 January – An almost textbook winter’s day with a real classy feel. A pair of blue tits serenaded each other in the park as a pigeon takes an afternoon siesta feeling the warmth of the winter sun.
16 January – A flock of starlings made their escape from the unrelenting urban landscape and seagulls graced the sky in a formation of dazzling precision.
18 January – Heavy snowfall created a white winter wonderland normally confined to pages of history. The strongest memory from the day was the silence: the normal noise of the hustle and bustle of everyday life had been replaced by total quiet.
19 January – A day spent inside admiring the spectacular covering of snow…its beguiling beauty and purity; the wintry scene feels like it will inspire a poem or painting that can do justice to its whiteness and crispness.
21 January – After days of sound solitude the city feels like it is coming back to life; birds singing in celebration as the snow begins to melt – creaking, moving and cracking – as it started to disappear.
23 January – The starkness of some winter foliage hides a male song thrush, almost perfectly camouflaged; only its slight movement giving away its existence. Then, slowly, and with growing confidence, it makes a dash across the terrain of a crisp white shed roof, taking off to re-establish a position hidden from gaze.
24 January – A solitary great tit clings to a birch tree as it sways gently in a cold fresh breeze. Its hopeful and perfectly tuned song reminds me that despite a week of snow the slow onward march to spring will regain momentum after its brief but dramatic pause.
25 January – The whiteness of the summit of Solsbury Hill brought back memories of the glory of black and white photography; and how an image frozen in time could perfectly capture and observe a landscape for all time.
28 January – It was a beautifully clear winter’s morning where the stark architecture of the bare trees dominated the skyline. Their dark outlines adding a sense of menace; creating a real sense of atmosphere against the crisp blue sky.
30 January – This was the day that the volume of birdsong seemed to move up a notch. The woodland and trees had come alive to the sound of birds and there had a real audible change in the noise and the soundtrack to the morning. A clump of snowdrops in a front garden gently swayed in the morning breeze, looking so vulnerable and fragile as they did battle with the elements.

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