It’s the darkest time of the year, and most of us humans prefer to stay indoors, close to the heat and light of a fire.
Much of the wildlife we saw in summer seems to have disappeared: the air is almost free of insects, slug and snail trails disappear, frogs and bats are hibernating.
But there is still life around. Noisy flocks of starlings descend on fruit trees, stripping any remaining berries.
Crows flock together at dusk and dawn, wheeling in great circles, making a cacophony of cawing.
It’s easier to see the birds in the garden now that the leaves are bare, and we’ve seen goldfinches and woodpeckers as well as the regular sparrows, starlings, bluetits, blackbirds, chaffinches, robins, wrens, and collared doves. A cock pheasant has been wandering in – usually they only come into the garden when the weather is severe. Perhaps he knows something that we don’t.
But there is other wildlife around. In the dark, foxes and owls hunt, and the roads are full of winter moths, flitting around the hedges.
And the colder, clearer air makes it easier to see the stars. I saw this bright moon and luminous planet jupiter, shining through the bare branches of an ash tree, early one morning.
Soon it will be the solstice, the year will turn, and I may see the sunrise in the morning.