THERE ARE FEW BIRDS in the wood, along the lane or in the park. Despite the sun, hoar frost has lingered at the edge of the wood. In a rut, ice has crystallised in the shape of an aircraft.
On a drystone wall, water has frozen solid in a bowl-shaped hollow. Ice shards by the puddles along the track clink like empty milk bottles as they scatter.
Two King Alfred's Cakes fungi give a hedgerow Ash the anxious expression of a Star Wars robot. A cut-off Elder stump is so luxuriously covered with bright green moss that it is furry to the touch. In a whimsical way it resembles a reclining stag. (It think that's enough objets trouves for one day!)
The old farmhouse by Thornhill Park has fashionable details of, I guess, the 1600s, with mullioned windows protected by a dripstone above and stone finials still standing on the apex and the ends of the gable.
A couple of guns are out in the fields. I peer over the parapet of a bridge and in the cover of the old railway cutting see a fine cock Pheasant. He looks back at me, but stays where he is, looking distinctly uncomfortable.
Almost all the birdlife we see is concentrated around the canal. The warmth of the water, and, perhaps, the south-facing aspect have kept most of the frost at bay. But above the lock a thin sheet of ice has started to form. There are Robins, Wrens, Blackbirds, Mistle Thrushes, Crow, Long-tailed Tits and a Kestrel hunting. But no Kingfisher, no Fieldfares or Redwings.
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