Late morning in Catton Park and the trees are alive with squirrels and birds. A pair of Blue Tits roll around in mid-air as they tumble towards a branch.
A man with a dog and an impressive looking camera is approaching. It’s him. The one I see almost every week by the pond taking photographs. We stop and chat a while about the birds in the Park. “Mainly Blue and Great Tits, but there are some Goldcrests and Treecreepers. Occasionally you may get a Buzzard flying over,” he tells me before we discuss the lack of Woodpeckers. “Not see one for over three weeks now. Don’t know where they’ve all gone.” We nod and go about our business.
Round by the pond, where my new friend has just been and put some food out for the birds, someone else is there photographing the feast’s devourers. I leave him to it.
A little later the second photographer calls to me in the woods. “There’s plenty of activity round by the pond. There’s some food there.” We chat about the birds we’ve seen and the lack of Woodpeckers. We nod and go about our business.
Great Spotted Woodpecker – the only shot I got
A short time later on the other side of the Park I spot a squirrel running up a tree, past a Great Spotted Woodpecker. In my joy and excitement I fail in a truly spectacular way to either press the right button on my recorder or take a decent photograph. My two new friends have long left the Park so I can’t share with them the news that the Woodpeckers are still around.
I look up at the bright red plumage as a dog comes thundering towards me. The bird nods and takes flight while I go about my business of quietly cursing free running dogs in woodland area of the Park.
Once a month I’m going to capture the sound of the Park so I can compare it over the year. Here’s January’s and below that this week’s picture gallery.
Tree in sunlight
I’m sure Catton Park was beginning to think it wasn’t ever going to see me again. Nineteen days since my last visit. I hang my head in shame.
I have to say that little has changed in the Park since 30th December, the dead things are no more dead than they were last time I was there and the hibernating trees look pretty much the same. Bare.
I usually visit early/mid morning, certainly no later than lunchtime, but today it was more like 2pm when I arrived. It was cold. The afternoon sunshine was deceptive, long shadows forming, but not very warming. Down the far corner of the Park, along Spixworth Road, there was still frost on the ground, perhaps even a bit of that snow that fell yesterday.
At home some of the more determined snowdrops are already in flower so I was keen to see if there was any early showings in the woodland. I wasn’t disappointed. The greenery looks strong and bright, no flowers yet, or even buds, but I’m guessing it won’t be too long.
The highlight of today’s visit has to be the Treecreeper I spotted doing what Treecreepers do on trees. He nervously looked at me before heading off and joined a group of Blue Tits that had gathered on another tree.
Round by the pond I sat for while and wrote:
Where once I sat and
watched the autumn leaves fall
the iced water holds up a stone
I’ll not be tempted to tread
where others have
My hands were red with the cold, so I headed back home to a hot mug of tea and final slice of 2014 Christmas cake.
Robin perched on a tree on Buxton Road
I did something rather bold today. I took my usual root into Catton Park, but then I exited the Park onto Spixworth Road and just kept on walking. Not before too long it became Buxton Road and I was out into the countryside for a while.
I wanted to see something different and tread on new ground. So I headed into Spixworth, pretty much following the route of the Number 13 bus. Most of what I saw was housing estate, but at this time of year it’s nice to see everywhere decorated for Christmas.
On the way back I stepped off Buxton Road and onto a walkers path that cuts the corner of Quaker Lane. Along here there are some lovely hedgerows and plenty of gates to lean against and ponder.
Following the lane round, it becomes St Faith’s Road and takes you past the end of the runway at Norwich Airport.
Finally I’m back in Old Catton and reenter the park. It’s been a three hour walk on a bright and chilly day. Some areas of the park are still covered in frost, even at lunchtime. But the weather forecast is for milder air, so perhaps this is the only glimpse of a hard winter I’m going to get before the year is out.
Catton Park – 21 December 2014
Autumn has played its final card, a chilly breeze on an otherwise mild December day. No sunshine, instead plenty of low cloud which seems to have drained Catton Park of any colour it may have had left.
Beneath my feet, where once I walked on golden leaves, the first frosts of the winter and much rain have turned the ground spongy and muddy brown.
Now the skeletal trees offer little cover for the birds and squirrels. A dash of red catches my eye as a plump Robin hops from bush to bush gathering food. The ground rustles with Blackbirds turning over the dry leaves like cooks preparing roast potatoes. Nature has brought them a feast for the Winter Solstice.
The park seems both bigger and smaller. The bare trees open up the views and you can see from one side to the other but you also get a sense how close the paths are to the road and how much the shrubs and trees, when in their glory, silence the traffic.
Now the splendour of the vibrant plants, the summer blooms and the autumn fruit have given way to the beauty of decay. Winter is coming.
I wanted to capture the changing colours of Oak leaves during my weekly(ish) trips to Catton Park. I think you get a general idea here of how they have changed over several weeks.