Posted by: Ross Gardner | January 1, 2012

Winter Moments

January 1st doesn’t ever really feel any different to December 31st.  The turning of the year is nevertheless, felt by all, to some extent at least (although the real New Year for me is when the spring touches the winter countryside and that wonderful uplift of the season begins).

Winter Moth (Operophtera brumata). Copyright 2011 Ross Gardner

The winter though, does indeed have its beauty.  For us recently, it has been the splendid spectacle of 3000 Knot crowding onto the small islands in a shallow lagoon by the Thames Estuary, while the high-water deprived them of their high-tide, saltmarsh roosts.  Or the restless skeins of Brent Geese taking flight, circling and settling over fields beside another Essex Estaury – the Crouch.  Or even the small wonder of Winter Moths (Operophtera brumata) lured towards the lights on a cold Suffolk night.  The Winter Moth flies from October to February and all those attracted to our lit windows are sure to be males, as the females possess only vestigal wings and are thus completely flightless.  Others too, choose the long autumn and winter nights as their time to take flight, such as the Early Moth (Theria primaria, January – March), the Scarce Umber (Agriopis aurantiaria, October – December) and the December Moth (Poecilocampa populi, September – December).

Green Woodpecker on the lawn. Ross Gardner

Our New Year ‘moment’ however, came in the shape of a decidedly handsome Green Woodpecker, that alighted our cherry tree to probe the lawn right in front of the kitchen door.  Not wanting to disturb the bird with the flash and focusing through the window, the picture is not the best, but a nice little record nonetheless.  We have seen Green Woodpeckers passing through the garden before, but this was the first time we had seen one spend some time foraging and at such close quarters too.

So often those little, but so memorable moments are delivered by unexpectedly familiar sources.

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