Total Page-views

Blog Archive

IoW GG links

To look at the Isle of Wight Green Gym web page (contains details of sessions etc) please use the following link :-

The link to Twitter is

If you would like to leave us any comments then please use this link

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Carrie's January Nature and History Natter.

January's Nature and History Natter.

January is one of the core months of winter, and although the shorter days can be crisp and bright, Spring still seems a long way off.  Flocks of wintering thrushes move around together searching for berries and other food, while blue tits will be scouting for Spring nesting sites, so make sure your nest boxes are in place.  One of our most spectacular sights are the huge flocks of starlings making amazing shapes in the sky, known as a murmuration.  Another winter delight is the sight of waxwings, so named for the waxy tips to some of their feathers.  These beautiful pinkish birds can be found even in cities, having a particular liking for the berry laden trees and bushes of some supermarket car parks, and are certainly worth making a special trip to hunt out!  In Britain the uncommon Cetti's warbler and the extremely rare and localised Dartford warbler are the stars of their type, as they do not migrate and are scarce enough to excite.  Increasingly blackcaps and chiffchaffs can be found in Britain at this time of the year, and their presence is a pleasant reminder of summer.  Rooks keep close to their nesting areas through the year, but can now be seen once more, with pairs working together to repair and rebuild the nests for the new season.

Our amphibians and reptiles all hibernate during the winter, and while newts may be unintentionally discovered under logs and in stonework, they should not be disturbed during hibernation.  January sees the emergence of some species with the first newts moving towards their breeding ponds, and in the counties of the south west, where is weather is slightly warmer, the first of the common frog spawn can now  be found in ponds.

January is really a low point in terms of plant hunting, however precocious dandelions may flower as may other common wayside plants, and the first of the hazel catkins are stretching out into golden tassels.  Lichens are easily found at all times, and it is worth venturing into graveyards, for instance, where the air is not too polluted, to discover these fascinating organisms. They are an association between algal and fungal species, which help each other survive the most adverse of conditions.

The month of January is named after Janus the god of the doorways transitions, gates, passages and endings, who has two faces which show the future and the past.  The name has its roots in Roman mythology deriving from the Latin word for door - ianua - with January being the door to the year. Historical names for January include its original Roman designation, Ianuarius, the Saxon term Wulf-monath (meaning wolf month) and Charlemagne's designation Wintarmanoth (winter / cold month).  In Finland it is known as tammikuu, meaning month of the oak, but its original meaning was the month of the heart of winter, as tammi initially meant axis or core. Czechoslovakians call it leden, meaning ice month, while in Ukrainian it is січень meaning cutting or slicing perhaps referring to the wind.

Many thanks to Carrie for the above.

No comments: