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November, December, January & February

The weather at Kelling Heath during December and January was very kind - after a busy Christmas and New Year the park closed for the season on January 2nd and it looked as though Spring was just around the corner with tree buds swelling and male hazel catkins a welcome site, but February blew in with an icy blast with heavy snow and cold temperatures down to -8 which proved a challenge for wildlife.

With the park closed and everywhere peaceful, Muntjac and Roe Deer took the opportunity to come in closer to the Park Centre and could be seen nudging their way along snow and ice peppered trails and paths quiet and undisturbed, a very different scene from the previous 6 weeks when there was an air of Christmas and New Year excitement as families followed trails, children searched for feathers, sticks  and other forest floor treasures and inquisitive dogs looked hopefully at scurrying grey squirrels and startled pheasants.   

When all was still, we caught the moonlight sighting of the woodcock, so well camouflaged amongst the winter undergrowth at the entrance to Kelling, but if we dared to disturb them they took off, zigzagging their way back into the woodland darkness.

The ponds and their surroundings changed overnight from the greens of spring starting to show its face, complemented by the tans, reds and oranges of autumn leaves still hanging around;  subtle, vibrant colours contrasted by the grey winter skies and dark water where the moorhens darted about going about their business amongst the reeds . Then came the snow and ice as winter arrived and it was a very different picture albeit a very beautiful one.  Then just as if a light had been switched on, the brightness and crisp whiteness of snow and ice reflected and shone, it was breath taking to be amongst it.

A layer of ice covered the water, and the snow sat for days on branches and paths.  There was a whole new game to be played, tracking.  It soon became apparent that as soon as your back was turned or when nightfall descended, this still quiet environment became a hive of activity as the Kelling Heath resident wildlife left their tracks and footprint marks in the snow and ice.  

As quickly as it arrived, the snow and ice vanished.  Spring can resume its steady march towards a time of renewal and revitalisation of woodland and the surrounding environment. The dawn chorus, bluebells and spring flowers will take over from snow drops and icicles as the kaleidoscope of nature turns her hand and continues to show us how resilient she really is.

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