We’ve been having some decent cold nights and frosty mornings in Wicklow, which is usually a good sign for a stable springtime. We are in the middle of another cold spell as I write this. Here is what some properly frosty grass looks like:
The frosts have meant clear skies and sunny but chilly mornings, but the newly blooming Snowdrops look great in the sunlight:
For me the flowers that are usually the most reliable indicators of the arrival of spring are Crocuses, and I’m glad to say I’ve found one with flowers on the verge of a full bloom:
They look bigger in the photo than they actually are in real life. On the other hand, the Daffodils are every bit as large as you expect. And in the last two days I’ve found some with their flowers opened and ready for business. If there are any early hoverflies about, they now have good amounts of pollen to feed on:
However, despite the cold conditions there are still berries to be seen on some trees. I found these impressive ones on a Hawthorn tree. Why are the birds not eating them?
However, probably the best indicators of warming temperatures are the Lords-and-Ladies, also known as Cuckoo-Pint or Arum, which have fleshy leaves and are slightly less hardy than other spring wildflowers. Their leaves rise from the ground and unfurl usually only when spring is well in place. Admittedly these ones which I photographed were in a sheltered area with a sunny aspect:
Although it’s cold and dark and not particularly pleasant, there are some advantages to Winter. For one thing the cold and general shortage of food supplies often brings larger animals closer to human proximity, and you can see creatures which normally don’t like to get too close. My dog recently had her ham bone stolen by a fox which came to visit my garden. I put a camera down in a good position and managed to get a nice shot of the fox paying a very early morning visit to the dog’s bowl, and glimpsing a person through the back window it hastily made its escape. Here is a photo of the fox looking up through the window, shortly after 5 a.m.:
The fox never seemed to notice the camera. This is the Red Fox – Vulpes vulpes, which can be found pretty much worldwide these days. Foxes are particularly beneficial for one reason – they eat more rats, and are far better at catching them than cats are.
Anyhow, although we are in the coldest part of the winter, there are already some definite signs spring is not far away. Here is a video I made this weekend which shows some of these signs:
We’ve had a very cold wet autumn and now a good chilly winter has arrived. Today is Christmas Day and we had a superb bright and sunny morning due to cool, clear skies. There was a good frost this morning. Here is a video I made of bees feeding on blooming mahonia. Mostly they are the hardy White-tailed Bumblebee, Bombus lucorum, with some very big examples. This bee commonly flies in winter. But there was also one Honey Bee in there, Apis mellifera.