A December Snow Story

Happy New Year! I hope your Christmas has been a good one, with time to rest, feast and spend time with your favourite people.

It has been quiet around here recently, as my time has been so full of work and school commitments since September. The rhythm of our weeks has changed, but I miss this space, and room to share and talk about my photographs and our daily adventures.

I’m not really a person to commit to resolutions, but this year I would love to spend more time with this blog, and will do my best to be around a little more.

But back to the photos; from a snow day in December, just before Christmas and amazingly coinciding with Mia’s birthday. A magical, perfect day, when all of our birthday plans were put on hold to run about in the snowflakes.

Waking Mia with news that it had snowed, and was still snowing, on her birthday morning, is one of those parenting moments I will store away in my memory for as long as possible. She was so torn between rushing outdoors in the falling snow, or opening her presents first!

A day that we had planned as a trip to Oxford for lunch and shopping, spontaneoulsy became a day of snowman building, snowball fights and sledging. Mia was around 4 years old last time it snowed, and could remember it, but Joe at 6 months old had no memory of it at all. He kept looking at the snow falling from the sky , confused as if he couldn’t work out where it was falling from.

Breakfast included a home made sno-cone, of snow and honey – in place of maple syrup!

A lovingly made snowman, who survived for most of the following week, before becoming a slushy puddle of coal, carrot nose and football scarf!

His first proper snow was quite overwhelming, and after the first novelty of it, Joe was less sure he liked it. Being pulled along on a sledge was a highlight for him, but he wasn’t too keen on the sledging down hills part, or the being so cold.

A wonderful end to 2017 and the perfect start to the whole festive season. Wishing you a very happy 2018; looking forward to an exciting new year!

 

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Experiencing A Mumuration Of Starlings

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It’s a lovely sounding word isn’t it, murmuration? My favourite collective noun (although a ‘plump’ of moorhens is pretty perfect too) and also the most amazing natural display. At this point in February, it sometimes feels like it has been winter forever and that perhaps spring might not ever arrive. Persuading yourself away from the warm indoors/cosy sofa and outdoors is not always easy, but is so rewarding. Winter’s natural beauty isn’t always as obvious as simple summertime pleasures, but just takes a little more effort to get out there and enjoy it.

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But the sun is still here, and the clear winter skies are stunning…even if multiple layers of thermal clothing are required to get outside and enjoy them! I am definitely not a hardy outdoorsy type person; I suspect my body’s circulation system is based more on a reptile than a mammal; I’m only truly warm having soaked up some warm sunshine for a few hours!

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Having visited RSPB Otmoor near Oxford to see the starling mumurations last year, I had to see this amazing display again. I waited weeks for good weather and a Sunday to happen simulataeously, and it was worth the wait. After walking a mile or two through the nature reserve I reached the reed beds where the starlings land to roost each evening. And was just in time; whilst the birds were roosting further away than last time I had seen them, the murmurations could still be seen in the far distance. Thanks to the super zoom lens I was just about able to capture some of their sky patterns.

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It was so incredibly peaceful, standing quietly with a small group of people all gathered for the same reason. Everyone wrapped up warm for the freezing cold, some with telescopes or binoculars and with cameras, and most with a thermos!

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Luckily we had packed hot chocolate supplies for the walk and settled down in a bird hide to enjoy our drinks and watch the starlings settle down for the night.

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The walk home as the sun set over the nature reserve was stunning; such pink winter skies and silhoutted bulrushes and trees. The mist was gathering over the water and the only sound was geese and ducks in the distance.

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Watching the starlings is a winter ritual that I am becoming very fond of, and one not to be missed. Since our trip to Otmoor I have seen coverage on a few tv shows of murmurations all around the country, and perhaps next year we will travel to the coast to see them gather and dance over the sand dunes!

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