Happy New Year everyone!
The last year has been an extraordinary period of extremes, the shocking threat of the pandemic and a heartening fresh sense of community that has come about.
Many people have discovered a new love of wildlife, nature and gardening, and at least the lockdown provided our planet with a little break from our antics. The wildlife seemed to appreciate it, although there were record numbers of admissions to the sanctuary! Many of us have had the chance to be more observant of nature than there is often an opportunity to be. And most of us have been around our homes a little/lot more than any other year in memory! I think we are all glad to see the back of 2020, although who knows what 2021 has in store for us?!
Looking at the positives, we have reconnected with the natural world and its little occupants in a way that has brought us joy and a sense of well-being. The small things have such a heightened sense of importance that was maybe missing before; the sight of a robin on a feeder, hedgehog poop in your garden, finding a frog, geese in flight. It was all there before, but the hectic pace of life that we follow rarely gives us breathing space to stop and look and listen.

And with regard to Hallswood, our community spirit has been so strong, with fantastic support in these most challenging of times, so for every £1 donated, each bottle of bleach or disinfectant sent in from the Amazon wish list, every crisp packet saved for our recycling team, for each used Jiffy bag kept for our eBay team, and every purchase from our shops, we thank you.

I hear a rumor that the white stuff might be heading our way soon.... there’s always a lot more threat than actual event, so it will be interesting to see if we do get any! With the schools closed, at least the children will be able to get out into it!

For the garden, it’s business as usual for the winter feeding! We have had a glorious invasion here of long-tailed tits! They are so very beautiful, descending on the fat balls in some numbers, seven at the last count, which is a wonderful sight. The blue tits, coal tits and great tits are focussing on the peanut feeders, and the cheeky starlings will dive onto any and every feeder that they can get to! We have extra food out now, suet block feeders as well as niger seed, and extra bird drinkers too. The blackbirds clear up any spillage from underneath the feeders and the robin supervises from his favored perch on the wheelbarrow nearby.

I saw a very unusual bird at the peanut feeder this weekend, a long slim body in shades of soft milky brown with a cap that had a hint of raspberry pink to it. I described it in detail to the other half who cheerfully declared, after consulting his bird book, that I was making it up. Well.... I beg to differ! Feeling rather huffy about it, I went through the book and after some page flicking, found that the exact match was a female blackcap. I hadn't seen one before, but as I triumphantly pointed out what I had seen, he decided, “oh yes, I wondered if it might be that”.........



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