Close of the Year.
As the year draws to a close and the darkest shortest days are upon us, you may wonder what could possibly be happening in the field…. December is one of the wettest months in Pembrokeshire, but still comparatively mild compared to the rest of the UK. There have been a few frosty starts and some grey days, but mostly above 5C and spectacularly starry skies at night.
My early walks have not always been in the field due to the darkness, but at weekends I have often been clambering over the stile just as the first glimmer of dawn has begun. A wonderful discovery has been that the very first bird to be heard this month as the daylight creeps across the field is the blackbird – now, I get it – that lovely hymn from childhood days suddenly came into my head: “Morning has broken, blackbird has spoken!”
The other most frequent feature in December has been mud, although new grass is already beginning to break through and the hedgerow bank is now covered with navelwort with some other arable weeds such as shepherd’s purse, mayweed and harts tongue fern.
The rooks are still busy and it is fascinating to see their nests in the bare trees, while the starlings are also in abundance. The robins are quite tame at this time of year and often hop along the field edges, keeping company with walkers and entertaining with their songs. At night the screech of tawny owls can be heard in the daylight hours many varieties of finches are searching for food. At this midwinter time some mammals are hibernating such as dormice, hedgehogs and bats while others are less active than usual.
For farmers, there is still plenty to be done and we have seen ploughing, spraying and extra foods being put out for livestock – now on the lower slopes or housed undercover.
A huge thanks to David Dixon for allowing me to explore and enjoy his land and to observe him and his team at their work – it has been a revelation and a privilege. Cwtch, the collie, and I will continue our early morning strolls around this field and its surrounds, but with a new respect and acknowledgement of the habitat management. We are lucky here in Pembrokeshire to still have the hedgerow wild flowers to enjoy and to see such an abundance of wildlife.