Long shadows cast by the low morning sun.

As December begins, the nights grow longer and the temperature drops. We are approaching the shortest day of the year, which occurs on the 21st of this month and it’s certainly feeling wintry. By now, most of the trees have already lost their leaves and the mornings are tinged white with frost. Despite the shorter days, the loss of leaves does often make the few daylight hours feel brighter, and certainly make this an excellent time of year for birdwatching. More on the next page!

Morning frost on fallen leaves.

On the morning we set out to explore local wildlife, we spotted a resident pair of peregrine falcons hunting on the big field and as we continued around the farm we also discovered numerous wrens, robins, greenfinches and goldfinches prominently perched on branches and fenceposts. Flocks of starlings chorus loudly among the trees and magpies and crows scold one another. Some of these birds may be migrants, but many others are simply more conspicuous at this time of year with their perches exposed by the lack of foliage.

December is also a time when Scandinavian migrants are on the move and those movements are largely dictated by the weather and berry crops. Harsh winter weather will drive larger flocks of finches, fieldfares, ducks, geese and even rarer species such as woodcock, lapwing and the splendid waxwings further south. So should the weather take a turn for the worse, don’t despair, wrap up warm and bring your binoculars!

 

 


About Mudchute

Mudchute Park & Farm. One of the largest city farms in London with 32 acres of countryside in the middle of the Isle of Dogs.

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