I noticed that last night at 1am, I was walking home in a glittering world of frozen ice crystals drifting in streetlit glow, so I think what looked like a fresh dusting of snow was probably a very heavy hoar frost. All my trees are thickly coated with meteorological icing sugar, and the ground shows the footprints of bird, cat, human, and a new species I shall refer to as Homo Wintertraxius that appears to have diamond shaped feet.
I wanted to be up at 7am to get a really early walk in, to try and scout out a possible non icey running route for later, but I'm just off shift and tired, so it was gone 9 when I left my home. With the hard weather, I was hoping Clay Line might be set hard so I could go the whole length of it, which I have not been able to do for months due to its passable impression of a World War 1 battlefield.
As soon as I started the route, I saw a flash of blush settling in a tree by what I think of as almost a little urban farm at the beginning of the lane proper - a Redwing, one of the birds I was hoping to spot. Sadly only a solitary specimen, but I'm sure his friends weren't too far away.
Clay Lane looked magical in the soft grey light, a tunnel of trees disappearing into the mist. As I walked a little further, a largeish Jackdaw sized bird shot out of the hedgerow to my right and disappeared over the path into the copses. All I saw was a fast moving vividly chestnut brown coloured back, and pointedish wings - possibly I'd flushed out a kestrel.
The mud had set in most places into a hard eged landscape like the surface of one of Saturn's moons.
Farmers were blasting shotguns at heaven knows what, unless it was under their nose they couldn't have seen anything.
A little further on, stubby little birds were flitting amongst the Hawthorns. A flare of white rump, and then the birds settled to reveal pink undersides. A pair of Bullfinches, as hoped for. Clay Lane is the only place in town I see Bullfinches. I noticed they were looking slightly washed out, whether that was the light or not, I don't know.
No Fieldfares masscaring the berries on Beacon Heights estate, but I could see on the floor that they'd been in the vicinity - gutted orange berries gushing out their insides.
Flocks of Chaffinches in Beacon Hill Park, and was trying to observe some very vividly red breasted birds through my little 8x field glasses. Never got a good look though.
It was a lovely walk out, revelling even in the bitter cold. Love listening to Radio 4 as I walk, free and happy AND OUTSIDE. Even on a day like this, I can't recommend it enough.