Winter’s Signpost

They’ve come from the North.

Fieldfares 131229

Every year, fieldfares and redwings – two species of thrush – flock to England to escape the Scandinavian winters. This winter they are exceptionally abundant, foraging in south London parks and flocking to the North Downs, joining the magpies and green woodpeckers on the local golf course.

Yet in this winter of near-everlasting rain, times are hard for our residents. The ground is so saturated that the local underground river is now an overground river, and the impact on ground-dwelling invertebrates will be dire. As in winter 2013, badgers will roam widely in search of alternative food sources. I was very surprised to see a badger at close range while walking Khamsin the other night – it was far after dark, so no photo, although I do have a drawing of badger to offer:

Badger drawing 140126

Foxes are still preoccupied with the breeding season, but they don’t like these cold, wet conditions, and in truth their photographer doesn’t either. This is a crop of 500mm of a fox reluctant to leave a hedgerow.

fox hiding

Eventually he ambled away, showing an enormous brush. I’m almost certain he’s the same male fox who visited the garden late last year.

fox hiding2 140126

Drawing might be easier than photography right now 😉

Fox sketch

But just occasionally the skies clear and Luna shines bright.

Luna jan 2014

About Adele Brand

UEA Ecology grad, typically sighted in the company of a tall graceful Belgian shephard dog and often trying to carrying a big camera around. Dislikes urban habitat but is comfortable in either prairie or mountain biomes. Frequently watching, or being watched by, foxes.
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19 Responses to Winter’s Signpost

  1. Robin says:

    Adele, I love your drawings! So far our winter has been pretty tame. It looked like we were going to get a wet January. It raining constantly the first two weeks, but hasn’t rained since! Two weeks of no rain, in January! Unheard of!

    • Adele Brand says:

      I think all your rain came here! 😦 Locally, the flooding is limited to the valleys (especially around the course of our rarely-seen winter river) but parts of Somerset have been turned into islands. I’d be quite happy to have no rain at all until August…

  2. meqanic says:

    My God, your drawing skille are improving rapidly, woman. Makes me very happy. Makes seeing such a pleasure. The first pic is a wonderful composition. 🙂

  3. wybauwerwin says:

    Adele wonderful topic great pict

  4. I must confess that my first thought, when you mentioned badgers, was of Arthur Rackham’s Mr. Badger:

    A book (and illustrator) much too neglected today, I’m afraid.
    Yes, I agree with Robin and Nic, your drawings are quite good. I observe that these are new ones, and they certainly do seem to exhibit a greater maturity of skill. Keep it up. The portrait of Brother Reynard is especially striking. Thanks.

  5. Darko says:

    I like that drawing of a fox, especially. One day you decide to write that book we were talking about for ages now 😛 , you can use your photographs and drawings to illustrate it, saving yourself a trouble of taking care of copyrights 😀

  6. Words says:

    I’m just waiting for the announcement that England is officially aquatic. I love the drawings, and especially the expression on the fox. It’s almost impossible to use the camera at the moment, but ever was the way with English winters. We’ve not see too many fieldfares or redwings locally. They must have decided to stay on north of the Downs.

    • Adele Brand says:

      Yes, I wouldn’t be too surprised if we’re soon blogging about passing dolphins and walruses 😕

      I heard a woodpecker drumming this morning. I’m glad someone out there thinks its spring.

    • Paul, get yourself a good(!) wide-brimmed hat, of a high-quality fur felt. If such is not available in the UK, try the James B. Stetson Co., over here. You might want the sweatband replaced with one of cloth, with threads of elastic woven through it. These hats can be steam-shaped to whatever brim shape you’d like, and they will withstand torrents of rain, and drain it off where you direct it with the brim. You and your camera will remain quite dry under it (provided you don’t adopt any really outrageous postures) and you will be able to concentrate on your photography.
      Mine is a 4″ brim, and has served admirably in sun, rain and snow.

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