top of page

NATURE NOTES

2022 December (various visits during the month, Dr Thomas Tuohy)

Hard frost for over a week from December 10th, but bright blue skies and sun,  the upper slopes were green while the frost pockets near the becks were encased in ice – very pretty hoar frost, which increased in intensity and complexity overnight.  

 

Darjeeling: Jacques Arc under frost, but sun on the slopes of Tail Head

 

 

 

 

Pré Catelan behind the White Mare covered with frost for a week, the narrow walk above Scar Perilous white and rather magical with the vivid green of the Austrian pines offering hope at the end of the funnel.  The frost pocket is caused by moisture rising from the Kerbeck trapped by the thorn hedge and freezing:

 

 

15 December. The area of Pré Catelan  sees little sun in December, but the length of this frost was extreme. Berberis wilsonii, with abundant berries was transformed into an icy trellis.

 

 

 

Named after the plant hunter Ernest ’Chinese’ Wilson, this plant, comes from mountainous areas in China, and can cope with temperatures as low as – 15 Celsius. The flowers attract pollinators and the abundant fruits survived the thaw, and will provide food for birds later.

The same Berberis wilsonii on 22 December:

 

Plants that have suffered from the heavy frost in the village are Ligustrum (privet) and some Hebes, but they should be fine again by the Spring. Worth bearing in mind  as there were plans for planting more Hebes in Jacques Arc.

 

Musegarth (orchard). The apple crop is only lightly harvested, leaving the bulk for wildlife.  Keswick Codlin especially beneficial. The primary culinary purpose is for an effortlessly attained creamy apple sauce. Large, yellow, round and abundant, the fallen debris covering the walk only slightly challenged by the frost, as the morning sun melted what had been frozen and preserved overnight. On 15 December the bounty was being tattered by a host of birds, with the noisy squabbling of flocks - Blackbirds and chattering Fieldfare and Redwing.

 

Another day, in addition to blackbirds there were what looked like black throated thrush, with silvery underwing and nervous flutter, which had probably ventured from the North East where conditions were much harder. Some were also present higher up the slope of Bank Hill, below the Quincunx, seen on the grass, interspersed with Snipe or Sandpipers, identifiable more in flight, by delicate swift- like wings and long bills

A brace of  Woodcock were flushed from about 4 feet up a straggly thorn hedge – bulky, slow and noisy beating wings in take off.

Friday 13th January, 2023, around 2.30pm (Dr Thomas Tuohy)


After recent heavy rain and gales, refreshing to find so much activity of small birds in Darjeeling, and in the Academy, 10 long tailed tits, showing pink, grey and black in the sun, found something to nourish them in a mature hazel. On Hemlock Edge a small sparrow hawk started from the ground, I found a small blackbird, still alive, just, which looked at me and then the head sank suddenly as it expired, a fresh catch, and I saw the hawk return to its prey later.

bottom of page