Changing Seasons – February

Month two of my photographer’s nature journal.

February 1st was a pleasant start to the month. Blue skies, clouds and sunshine along with a bitterly cold wind. I saw eight magpies close to the house, the most I have seen at any one time. I like magpies (Pica pica). They are handsome and intelligent birds though have a bad reputation. When seen close-up their black plumage takes on an altogether more colourful hue with a purplish-blue iridescent sheen to the wing feathers and a green gloss to the tail.

One for sorrow, Two for joy, Three for a girl, Four for a boy, Five for silver, Six for gold, Seven for a secret, Never to be told. Eight for a wish, Nine for a kiss, Ten a surprise you should be careful not to miss, Eleven for health Twelve for wealth, Thirteen beware it’s the devil himself. “

The original version was recorded in 1780 and contained only four simple lines:

“One for sorrow, Two for mirth, Three for a funeral And four for birth.”

It all went downhill on February 6th though as even this far west we had a fall of snow. Only light and barely settling on the rain-soaked ground; gone by lunch-time. Even so, an unusual sight to see Alice in a snow storm.

A walk around the lanes revealed signs of spring: Lesser Celandines (Ranunculus ficaria) opening their golden faces to the sun and daffodils forcing their way upwards. Primroses in the walls and hedgerows, red campion, periwinkle both blue and white, ferns with new fresh green growth, fat textured foxglove leaves, delicate cow parsley, spires of wild montbretia and the thick leathery disks of navelwort. And still the bare branches of the stunted trees reaching for the sky.

Driving saw me ducking for cover as a buzzard or maybe even an owl swooped over my roof (it annoys me every time I do that as obviously ducking inside the car is useless) and a near miss or two as rabbits leaped across the lane in front of my wheels.

After the snow followed a couple of weeks of rain and fog, but from 18th we had several days of calm and sunshine when the flowers appeared in abundance and the garden birds returned including a goldfinch, a thrush and three long-tailed tits who fly at such a pace you can hear the tic-tic-tic sound of their wings beating.

Not a long-tailed tit, but a cheeky blue tit instead.

Clear skies revealed diamond chips studding the blackness above as the moon waxed and waned. A perfect crescent hanging in the twilight one evening.

And the dairy herd are back in their green pastures again so I can look forward to seeing them march along their track back to the farm to be milked twice a day.

Trink Dairy

On the 22nd of the month I witnessed a murder in the garden, or rather over it, as a young starling had a run-in with a large crow. The battering of wings alerted me to the crisis and I looked up to see the starling plummet into my woodland border. On investigation the poor bird was choking with blood, but no other injury that I could see. I held it in my hand, stroking the warm body as it died. I can only hope it felt some comfort.

The beautiful iridescent wing of the starling

I managed to get out into the garden on several days to do a bit of post winter tidying and check on the bulbs, before the weather changed again during the last days of the month when icy winds arrived from Siberia and the temperatures plummeted.

The sun sets further round to the west now and the colours have been different in cold clear air this month. Not many sunsets to speak of, but those we had were truly spectacular.

EDIT: 28 February @ 14:00
After blizzard like conditions this morning, here is Alice (and a Cornish Palm) in the sunshine and snow.

The Changing Seasons | February

59 Comments Add yours

  1. Anabel Marsh says:

    So lovely! We’ve had blizzards and whiteouts today: apparently we are on red alert so I doubt i’ll be moving far tomorrow.. I haven’t seen such a thick snowfall for many years.

    1. Heyjude says:

      It was surprising how fast it settled here Anabel, though hardly surprising as the ground was dry and had been freezing for days. Reminds me of winters as a child up in Wakefield where the snow would be several inches deep.

      1. Anabel Marsh says:

        Yes, it’s a long time since we’ve had such deep snow. Not going anywhere today!

        1. Heyjude says:

          No. Best to stay indoors and blog / read / bake / keep warm 😀

  2. Wow, Jude, you’re experiencing everything from spring to winter in February. I love the sunsets, the wings of the starling (poor thing), the blue tit and the magpie. Great captures of the progression of nature through the winter.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thanks Cathy. Hope to get out a bit more in March, though I don’t know what effect this deep freeze will have on the flora.

      1. I hope you get better weather in March, Jude. I see sunshine out the window today, so I’m going out for a 5-mile walk in a while. 🙂

        1. Heyjude says:

          5 miles! Oh, my. Training for the Camino I guess. You are a very plucky lady 🙂

        2. Yes, I have a 9-mile walk planned this Saturday with the Camino group. I already walked 3, 4 and today will be 5 miles. While in Pittsburgh, we walked 9 miles one day. Mike was not a happy camper!

        3. Heyjude says:

          9 miles is a long distance. Not sure I could do that now, although I am reasonably OK on the flat.

        4. Nine miles is a really long distance, Jude. I think this Saturday walk will be hilly but mostly on pavement. It’s actually an “Urban Walk Highlighting Martin Luther King, Jr’s Famous Walk on the National Mall.” The Mid-Atlantic Pilgrims on the Camino group is doing it along with the Philadelphia Chapter. It should be fun, but I imagine I’ll be wiped out after. Mike already promised me a leg rub!

          Anyway, I better get used to these long distances, because I’ll have to walk about 12 miles/day on the Camino. I plan to go slower than normal, and take some shorter days, but I can’t take forever to do it!

        5. Heyjude says:

          Well good luck. I hope all goes well and your boots are very comfy!

        6. Thanks, I hope so too! I don’t need any foot, knee or back pain!

  3. A mistresspiece this. Beautiful writing, and so much you’ve noticed. I knew I was going to enjoy this series. I especially liked the poetry of the paragraph about plants, and the photo of the starling’s wing. Such careful documenting of the month.

    1. Heyjude says:

      The start of spring today and we are living in a freezer. I dread to think what this is going to do to my flowers. Wasn’t expecting snow and temperatures like this in Cornwall.

  4. Your photos are wonderful.

    I love the bird photos – including the magpies who ARE handsome! 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thank you Lynette. I love watching the birds.

  5. Lucid Gypsy says:

    Poor starling, I’m glad you eased it’s path but this made me cry.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Oh, sorry Gilly, the last thing I wanted to do. I have no idea what caused it to die, unless some internal injury. I knew I couldn’t save him though.

  6. Such a wing to admire and touch

    1. Heyjude says:

      Yes, the feathers are very beautiful.

  7. LensScaper says:

    And just when we think winter is over, the snow arrives. I imagine your landscape has changed dramatically in the last 24hrs. I was surprised a fortnight ago to see a couple of shrubs with tiny specks of green. That’s a bit early, I thought, but it raised one’s spirits. Now the stream not far from our house is frozen over and Spring is on hold. A great gallery of images, imaginatively arranged.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Glad you enjoyed the post LS. Yes, it is all looking a bit bleak at the moment, but happy to say my little daffs have raised their heads.

  8. Colline says:

    Love your collage of sunset skies Jude!

    1. Heyjude says:

      One of the best reasons for living in this house Colline.

  9. My goodness what an eventful month – in every way. All your photos are wonderful but the bird ones are particularly fabulous – especially the photo of the poor starling’s wing, although I love the little fluffy bluetit with the wind blowing its feathers a little.

    1. Heyjude says:

      February certainly left its mark this year. Hoping we get a long, hot summer. (well one can but hope…)

      1. Fingers crossed for a long hot summer for you. However, the downside of a long hot summer is that it will be too hot, there will be a hosepipe ban, the trains won’t run because of the overheated rails, it will be too hot to sleep at night, people will complain because they are not allowed to wear shorts to work and will expire in their hot offices… Ah, the joys! 😀

        1. Heyjude says:

          Haha… sounds like us Brits! Still, I don’t have to go to work and I have four Velux windows in my room, so the only issue would be the hosepipe ban.

  10. mickscogs says:

    That bird looked so different to our Magpie I was compelled to google it. Our Magpies are not corvids; they are completely different species closely related to the butcherbird.
    It snowed in Rome Jude, so you would have had to move a long way south to avoid it. Still beautiful and lovely photos Jude.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thanks Mick. Glad the snow has gone though, even a little bit seems to cause havoc here and those Arctic temperatures were not at all welcome!

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