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January 8th

We've endured the cold snap for about a month now and the flocks of Fieldfares and Redwings that have arrived from the continent in that time, and added different colour to the red berry laden hedgerows, have apparently moved further inland. A flock of c46 Fieldfare were at the paddocks near here on the 4th and I've noted none since, other than a couple of them in our garden. Freezing weather is always good for seeing the normally elusive Woodcock as they abandon their normally furtive, nocturnal behaviour and search more openly for food during daylight hours. I've seen them almost daily so far this year and this morning I recorded 8 different birds, including a group of 5 which were feeding in the copse that adjoins the garden of 'Laurel Lodge'. Snipe too, another bird which normally spends it's time in wetter habitat away from disturbance, have lost their inhibitions and can be watched feeding in more accessible situations. The small drain that runs from 'Thatch Dyke' and across the paddocks has attracted a handful of them of late and I enjoy stopping to watch them as they share the feeding here with a few Moorhens and two pairs of Mallard.

A delicately and cryptically patterned Snipe © Arthur Grosset

As well as birds, mammals struggle in harsh weather and we can often be treated to close views of usually shy species. The urban Fox has become quite at home living alongside man in towns and cities but their rural cousins are still generally rather shy creatures. Early Thursday morning saw one along the lane, starkly contrasted against the virgin snow, and it paused to look at me before fleeing away across the fields. It was a real beauty and appeared to have sustained an injury to a forepaw, an obvious limp to it's gait slowing it down perhaps a touch, and I hoped this wouldn't affect it's chances of survival. The rusty brown Bank Vole that our cat Polly brought home one day was probably easy for her to catch in the snow and elsewhere I saw Muntjac in my headlights at Hoveton and East Ruston, both on January 5th.

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