Winter into spring: January on the farm

January is often a cold and bare month, no leaves on the trees and an atmosphere of dormancy. But I say, if you just look closely enough, beauty is still there to be found.

January is the month when snowdrops begin to spring from the earth, hinting at the new life that is to come with spring.

Trees stand bare and leafless, showing off their magnificent skeletal shapes.

The last of the autumn’s berries still laden the hedgerows throughout January this year, in particular bright red rose hips.

As well, windfalls still lie beneath the apple trees from last years crop, ready for the taking. Badgers make frequent trips to the orchard to take advantage of the food source, and all that can be seen as evidence of these raids, are the discarded left overs of apples out in the nearby fields.

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Many gulls feed on the farmland fields during the daytime, with the flocks being mainly made up of herring gulls and great-black backed gulls. Usually also during the winter, flocks of starlings feed around the farm, but they only appeared for the first time this winter, near the beginning of January. Currently they can be seen flocking on the fields to feed or chattering away in the trees around our farm buildings. As well, iconic of this time of year, fieldfares and redwings can be seen feeding in the fields.

During the daytime, lots and lots of birds visit the bird feeders in the garden, to feed on peanuts and mixed seed. These bird species include, blue tits, chaffinches, great tits, goldfinches, house sparrows, dunnocks and great spotted woodpeckers.

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During the night at this time of year, tawny owls can be heard calling, as they attempt to rekindle pair bonds before the breeding season begins from February onwards. Also, female foxes can be heard calling to males, as they become receptive for mating.

Some mornings are woken up to a frost covered landscape. It makes things look particularly magical with the ground sparkling in the morning sunshine. With changes in winter weather though, these mornings have become rare in Dorset during this winter.

This January, change is in the air. Not the change of tradition, but change that feels wrong. Daffodils began to shoot from the beginning of January and primroses appeared in the hedgerows.

My highlight of January 2016 has to be, seeing a lone kestrel hunting close to our house everyday. A magnificent sight to see a bird hovering, still in mid air, before swooping down to catch a vole.

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