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Nature Notes:  January 2008
Compiled by Pat and Charles

See December’s Nature Notes

Squirrel Drey

The Common doesn’t look its best under grey skies at the moment. Only the first few gorse flowers (plus two buttercup flowers that we found!) provide a little brightness among the muted shades of winter. But when the sun is shining the scene is transformed. If we get any more clear mornings when the trees are white with hoar frost, do get out onto the Common and enjoy its magic. At this time of year the squirrels’ dreys are especially visible as bundles of leafy twigs high up in the bare trees. As last winter, moles have been very active beside the football pitch making long lines of molehills. Elsewhere the drifts of fallen leaves and the areas of tussocky grass are important winter refuges for small mammals and hibernating insects.  

Some weeks ago we read of a sparrow hawk trying to catch a young stoat. This was the first time we had realised that sparrow hawks preyed on anything other than birds. Then while talking to John Hanna on the Common he told us of seeing a sparrow hawk trying to grab a young rat which had taken to visiting a bird feeder just outside his window. The feeder pole partly obstructed the hawk and the rat escaped from its grasp. It didn’t come to the feeder again! John said the view of the hawk from just a few feet away was really spectacular but it all happened so quickly that there wasn’t time to pick up a camera.

Happy New Year!

 

Mole Hills

Hoar Frost

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