Saturday, January 10, 2009

Yesterday saw a spectacular hoar frost across Scrag Copse with every tree was frozen into a crystal sculpture. When I first arrived at the wood every single branch and twig was coated in feathery, translucent ice crystals. I think the overall temperature rose to a maximum of 1 degree and as the morning progressed, some sun broke through causing exposed areas of the hoarfrost to melt, however, most of the wood remained frosted in ice throughout the whole day. Looking through the icy chaos of the branches towards the sunlight was a spectacular sight!
It was good to crunch through both the leaves and the frost and has the added advantage that my boots aren't getting heavy with mud. I have to make the most of this as thick mud is a fact of life at Scrag. At one stage throughout the day I was alerted by the sound of rustling leaves and I thought someone was approaching. When I scanned with my binoculars, however, I realised it was a large flock of redwings. They were rolling along the woodland floor throwing leaves behind them as they searched for invertebrates. It was difficult to estimate the size of the flock but I would say close to 100 or so and collectively their leaf sifting activities caused quite a lot of noise even from 30m distance. The normal view of redwings in the woodland is as they fly overhead, 'hupping' so it was a pleasure to watch them so engrossed in their feeding. They're a dynamic looking small thrush with orange-red underwings and flanks. They have a pale stripe above the eye with a similar pale moustachial stripe and this gives them a slightly annoyed or angry look. As I watched them, leaning against a birch, there were some sudden alarm calls from the canopy from magpies and jays and then the whole redwing flock took to the wing in fright. They all flew directly past me just above the ground so close to me that I could hear their wings. I scanned for the avian predator that had clearly caused the commotion but got no sighting. Overall though it was a lovely winter experience in the woods.

1 comment:

Ali said...

Todays frost was quite magical - I spent some time on Ashdown Forest (close to home) photographing the scenes of white. I would imagine Scrag was beautiful.

I'm hoping it'll hang around tomorrow so that I can try to nail those frosty macros.

Happy New Year, hope 2009 is a good one for you.