Saturday morning loomed bright and glorious and I knew that I had to make the most of every moment of sun we get at this time of year. Mr VP was feeling the after-effects of his night of raucus festive celebrations with his company, so I jumped in the car with my Wellibobs, camera and warmest coat, collected Mum and her dog and headed off into the countryside.
The drive was a little ropey at times, as this far out in the ‘sticks’ they don’t always grit the roads, and being more northerly, they’d got the worst of the snow we’d had the other day. The roads were cold and snow lined the verges and covered the hills in the distance.
By the time we got into the woods, the temperature had ‘risen’ to 0ºC and the whole place had been transformed into an icy wonderland reminiscent of Narnia. Ponds were frozen over, the snow had refrozen into thick sheets of glassy-clear ice. Everything was eerily quiet as the low winter sun glinted through the trees.
Look at that low sun glinting through the trees. The rich red colour of the forest floor and the deep Christmas green of the evergreen needles. This woodland is mostly pine and spruce with the odd hardwood and yew thrown in.
We headed off to a wildlife hide, partly to get out of the cold and partly to see what wildlife was taking refuge on the feeders. We weren’t short of birds to watch. Chaffinches, blue tits, robins, nuthatches, blackbirds, coots, moorhens, woodpeckers, coal tits and all manner of birds were flying around the feeders, desperately trying to fill themselves up to keep warm.
The nuthactch wasn’t a persistent feeder; she kept taking small morsels of food and then flying off. Soon after, you could hear the tap, tap, tap of her pushing the sunflower seeds into crevices in the bark of nearby trees. What an amazing little bird!
One of my favourite oaks. It has the most perfect oak-shape, don’t you think? By this time, my feet were achingly cold and I’d lost sensation in the tips of my toes. The dog had begun to shiver, too, so we decided to head back.
Just before we got back to the car, we noticed that we were being followed by this little fellow.