I habitually paint snow with a blue tint, but today, with no sunlight, it's just warm grey. In contrast, the bare trees are mainly green, the colour of lichen and algae which cover almost every branch and trunk.
With most of the woodland floor under snow, a Wren hops about at the edge of the stream, while a Chaffinch perches in the branches of the Crack Willow above. A Blackbird rumages in a small patch of the leaf litter that is sheltered by an ivy-covered oak. A Robin perches in the branches above.
Winter StubbleBeyond the wood, on the stubble field by the causey stone path, five Carrion Crows have been joined by a flock of little brown birds. With binoculars I identify several of them as Reed Bunting, the males showing a faint trace of the black caps they'll wear in spring. There is also a group of slightly larger streaky brown birds but these have a definite crest, so we identify them as Skylarks.
Hunting the HareAlongside the icy track of the Balk, Fieldfares and Redwings are feeding on a field that was cut for silage. At the sound of shouting behind the copse, followed by the loud crack of a shotgun, they fly off. Two men who are out with their dogs have shot a Brown Hare. One man is carries it by its backlegs. The outstretched hare is half his height, a full three feet long.
By the canal the Redwings have deserted the snow-covered hedges and they've gathered on a field which was recently flooded, where standing water has prevented the snow from settling. The Mute Swans' pool is a solid expanse of white.
It has been worth the effort of walking over the ice and snow. There seems to be a greater variety of birds about this afternoon. Alongside the rushy field, I've stopped to take a closer look at seven Tree Sparrows, a decling species in the local countryside, that are perching alongside a Reed Bunting in a thorn tree by the towpath, when two Snipe fly up suddenly from the marsh nearby, then drop steeply into the rushes at the far side of the field.