My year in nature is coming to a close, and I can sense much of nature is shutting down ahead of the presence of winter’s Jack Frost and Co. Although the precious daylight hours will be at their shortest, there are still some favourite spectacles to be witnessed. Blessed to have local Wetlands, I can enjoy flights of geese filling the evening skies in the fading light — a magical experience facing West as they skim across the crimson sky of a setting sun.
Epping Forest is littered with open water where I love to see Coots bobbing and diving. I grew up near a pond, so these cousins of the Moorhen take me back to dusk explorations from a garden den. Coots have a distinctive white bill and face giving rise to the saying ‘bald as a coot’.
Passing through the forest as the last of the leaves have fallen, I occasionally spy a ball of mistletoe stranded in the treetops. For ancient Druids this plant symbolised vitality. I wonder how their greeny-mustard coloured sphere of leathery leaves and translucent berries grew way up there, with no tethers to the ground. Perhaps I’ll ask the Blackcaps.
When you next venture outside, tip-up a plant pot or roll over a log and you will briefly reveal a seething mass of grey-blue woodlice before they trundle away from the sunlight into the nearest crevice. Woodlice are relatives of the shrimp but rather too bitter for birds.
Rather than shutting down ourselves, pile on the layers, shove on some boots, and step outside to allow nature to carry your spirits through the winter ahead.