The Wrendale Wildlife Watch: December on the farm
December has felt like a month of extremes on the farm. After such a mild Autumn, the sustained frost at the start of the month felt so necessary and refreshing. I can’t remember the last time we had so much freezing weather that wasn’t punctuated by rain turning the ice to slush, so for several days the farm looked like a winter wonderland. The light quality was so soft and cool and I couldn’t wait to try and capture some of the colours in watercolour – it’s great to make a record like this as it will definitely come in useful for some future artwork.
Fast forward a couple of short weeks and it feels like the farm has never been wetter! It’s a hazard of being at ‘Low Farm’ but we’ve got puddles and ponds appearing pretty much everywhere across the farm – wellies and raincoats a definite necessity for outside walks. It’s also been a lovely month to see some of the winter visitors to the farm and the hedgerows have been full of fieldfares and redwings feasting on the berries. The migratory woodcock have also arrived – they are notoriously well camouflaged and the first sign is usually a clattering of twigs and flapping of wings as they break cover having been disturbed. We’ve also got a lot of snipe this winter and they seem to love the wet conditions on the farm. They dart away on thin, pointed little wings and something about them reminds me of a bat, flicking their wings on a zig-zag flight path.
By far the most exciting visitor to the farm this month was a beautiful hen harrier. This one was a juvenile male and we were able to identify him from the distinctive white band across the base of the tail that helps to differentiate hen harriers from buzzards and other birds of prey. It is estimated that only around 120 hen harriers fledged in the UK this year so we feel very privileged to host one here this winter.
With the trees and hedgerows having shed their leaves and offering fewer hiding places, it’s a nice month to spot wildlife across the farm and we’ve seen plenty of our regular visitors braving the cold weather. I always start to make plans for next year’s designs at this time of year and the Christmas break is a lovely time to relax and feel inspired… watch this space!
Photography credits to the fabulous Graham Catley, ecologist and photographer.
ARE YOU Feeling inspired?
Would you like to do some wildlife spotting of you own? Keep track and celebrate the wildlife around you throughout the different months of the year with our beautifully illustrated wildlife journal – perfect for logging any wildlife sightings.
Click here to take a look at our wildlife journal.