Coot nesting time, Perton

Nest-building coots,  late January, Anglers Pool, Perton

Folklore claims that birds pair up on St Valentine’s Day. For some species, the process actually starts before the end of the old year. This pair of coots were building a nest on the lower pool at Perton, at the end of January 2019

Rotund squirrels, West Park last year

Too many squirrels

From early January 2021, chubby squirrels in West Park. Some were probably pregnant, but others had been overfed with peanuts by visitors to the park, and were expectant that I was about to give them some as well.

West Park wagtails in winter

West Park wagtails

From early January last year, when some of the West Park wagtails were showing themselves while out searching for things to eat.

Early spring flowers

Spring flowers: snowdrops, Bantock Park

It’s getting almost time for the first flowers which signal the imminence of spring: snowdrops and crocuses. I’ve not yet been out to see if this year’s are opening yet. These were from Bantock Park in 2016

Spring flowers: yellow crocus, Bantock Park

Wren on a muddy bank

Wren hunting, Smestow shore

The New Year period 2020 must have been drier than this one. There was quite a lot of mud exposed at Newbridge where the Smestow Brook was rather low. A wren was taking the opportunity to come down for a drink.

Collared under a hedge

Collared earth stars, Perton

If crowned earth stars (yesterday’s post) are quite rare, their collared earth star cousins are quite common. The ones I notice seem mostly to be growing under hedgerows, like these. But I’ve also spotted them more than once half-hidden under shrubs not far from the city cantre.

Crown by the canal

They take the crown

Earth stars are a group of fungi with striking fruiting bodies, which often last several weeks once they appear.

Crowned earth stars are one of the rarer species, so it was nice to spot these growing by the canal footpath at Newbridge at the start of January last year. No sign yet of them re-appearing this time round.

Bright colours on the water

Carolina drake, River Severn, Shrewsbury

A Carolina duck on the river at Shrewsbury, back in 2017. It was in the same area on the Severn – a popular spot for feeding the ducks – for several of my occasional visits to the place. There’s been no sign of it more recently.

Bright colour for winter

Winter fungi: scarlet elf cups

Scarlet elf cups are fungi which send out their brightly coloured fruiting bodies when the weather is at its coldest. I’ve made several trips to places where they normally show themselves in January, but so far there’s been nothing this year. These are from 2019

Will we see these this January?

Not a waxwing winter

The weather means I haven’t been getting out as much as usual, and then I picked up a week’s work. So far a few days, I’m going to recycle pictures from previous Januaries in the dozen or so years this blog has now been running.

Winter 2013, when snow lay for several days in January. While it was here, waxwings also arrived in force. Here they were feeding on a tree by the canal at Compton, undisturbed by the dog walkers, joggers and me stopping to watch them from the opposite side of the water.

Heron by reed bed, Perton

Heron by reed bed, Perton

The reed bed at the edge of Perton’s upper pool almost seemed to glow in the early morning winter sun. The heron (I hadn’t seen it for a long time) was alert at the water’s edge. It seemed to be on the watch for prey in the reeds rather than to water.

Alyssum flowering, front garden

Alyssum flowering, front garden

Bringing a bit of brightness on a dull early January day, alyssum flowering in a front garden.

Alyssum flowering, front garden