Nature Notes by John Pullen.

Nature Notes- December 2014

Its twilight the clocks moved back a few days ago, darkness is earlier yet Nature speaks to us: three robins still sing their hearts out all competing for one corner of the garden, will they be there next month probably not, females seek the shelter of woods and males will migrate further south. In the thickets of the tall hawthorn hedge a pair of magpies cackle and call like two naughty school boys who are supposed to be going to sleep and continually try to make the other one laugh and get into trouble with their mother. Then suddenly a piercing screech, a long winding shout for help just before death, silence then a louder, more piercing thinner scream. I only remember such a fierce noise once or twice before when witnessing a stoat or was it a weasel catching and killing a rabbit as a boy. Certain sounds you register and never forget this sound continues to haunt me weeks later I go and investigate finding no visual evidence but confident in my mind as to what it was. The other noise that stops me rigid is the yelp of a fox which we will hear again any time now. Still very few birds at the feeders as there is plenty of food in the hedgerows A great spotted woodpecker has resumed coming to the peanuts, a party of long-tailed tits pass through the garden daily and if I am working in the garden I often hear the woeful cry of a pair of bullfinches but rarely seen. Migrating woodpigeons and skylarks pass overhead, the wood pigeons in flocks of fifty to a hundred, the skylarks in ones or twos. Perhaps this Christmas you will receive a card with a goldfinch often with the figure of the Madonna, why a goldfinch to understand we have to learn of its allegoric symbols of the Middle Ages. The gold of the wings was seen as a colour associated with the cure of sickness, the red of the cheeks a reminder of Christ’s blood, finally the goldfinches association of feeding on thistles reminds one of the thorns of the crucifixion and the fact that thistles seeds were used in medicine as a ingredient to combat the plague. The goldfinch was a symbol of endurance and redemption which we see in the famous painting the Madonna of the Goldfinch by Raphael which is in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Have an enjoyable Festive season and thanks for reading the articles.                                              J.R.P.

For previous nature Notes for July to November 2014 see below

 July 2014

August 2014

September 2014

October 2014

November 2014