A Chilly Walk in Coldfall Wood

Dear Readers, there are a number of exciting plans for Coldfall Wood and the neighbouring Muswell Hill Playing Fields this year, including a much-delayed meadow on the edge of the Fields (watch this space for more details). But today was cold and sunny, and it was good to have a walk and to see what was going on at this quietest time of the year. First up was this little chap.

How fluffed up he looks! It’s easy to forget that ring-necked parakeets are quite used to cold weather across their range – it can get extremely cold in parts of India at night, for example. These individuals were already looking at nest sites and generally making a racket.

The crows love to hang out in the trees on the edge of the fields, watching in case someone drops some food, or if there’s something or someone to play with. They seem to catch up on all the local gossip as well.

The trees seem bare, but there are already buds, and the beauty of their structure is revealed best at this time of year.

This brown rat seemed very at home along the edge of the stream – I know that people don’t like to see them, but they are extremely interesting and intelligent creatures, and very adaptable. They also ‘follow the food’, so if people didn’t drop their food, there probably wouldn’t be as many rats – anecdotal evidence suggests that the population increased during lockdown, when the woods were the only places where many people could get outdoors.

I love the way that the ice crystals on the handrails of the boardwalk form a kind of miniature forest…

and the boardwalk records the footprints of the people and animals who have crossed it. Don’t dogs get cold paws? Their pads must be warm to melt the ice underfoot.

Then it’s back home, and the squirrels have clearly discovered the bird table, which I’ve been keeping topped up in the very cold weather. They seem very well insulated against the chilly temperatures, and they don’t hibernate as such – they might sleep out the very coldest days, but will usually be out and about regularly, presumably haunting the bird feeders of everybody on the street, and trying to remember where they buried the peanuts that they collected earlier in the year. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of ‘my’ squirrels digging up a cache, so maybe it’s just easier to hunt out the fresh stuff provided by us humans. I don’t begrudge them, anyway. As I think I’ve said before, when you have a wildlife garden you don’t get to be too choosy about who turns up.


1 thought on “A Chilly Walk in Coldfall Wood

  1. Liz Norbury

    Happy birthday! I hope you’re having a lovely day.

    We too find that the local squirrels are partial to bird food – or is it the same squirrel each time?

    It’s good to hear that there are exciting plans for Coldfall Wood and Muswell Hill Playing Fields.


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