Friday, December 8th 2017
At the start of the day, the cold had really set in. No weather forecast was needed to feel that the wind was coming from the Arctic and both its icy cold and strength meant this was very much a 'lazy wind' - going through rather than round you. The fact that the feeling of cold was due to the wind rather than a drop in ground temperature meant that, while it was feeling below freezing, many of the wetland pools remained open. The lake, being more sheltered, continued with open water throughout the day.
So while the Exmoor ponies started the day with the first rays from a weak Winter sun warming their faces as they stood with their tails into the wind, the Scrapes were offering more shelter for Roe Deer who clearly preferred life in the woodland areas. Their tracks were once again evident in the light dusting of snow, none being more obvious than when one briefly crossed the Easy Access Trail.
Yet more birds are being attracted to the feeders and today two Jays were taking it in turn to keep control of the peanut feeders to make the most of the opportunity to feed. The number of pheasants continues to grow as news spreads that there might actually be such a thing as a free lunch. The number of Redwings continues to grow, while one visitor estimated that he had seen over one hundred Fieldfares on the moorland. Later Winter arrivals such as Brambling and Lesser Redpoll have yet to show in any numbers with only one or two seen so far.
Towards the end of the day, the wind was no less severe or cold, and still some of the wetland pools remained unfrozen. A solitary Kestrel, a small black silhouette against the darkening sky, remained fixed in position head on into the wind. A couple of times it dropped closer to the ground before striking and then flew away to a patch of woodland to consume its prey. In a difficult time for finding food for most wildlife, one hunter had been successful.
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