Rainfall in January was comparatively low for the time of year, producing only 40.5 mm during the month. Our highest daily rainfall was 13 mm, recorded on the morning of the 30th, but there was no recordable rainfall between the 17th and 28th. This still leaves our pond water-levels unusually low for the end of January. Maximum daytime temperatures ranged between 0⁰ C on the 26th and 11⁰ C on the 8th and 11th. Ponds were partly frozen from the 3rd to the 6th, and almost totally frozen from the 11th until a thaw set in on the 28th. All ice was completely melted by the 31st.
We recorded 33 species of wild birds during the month, 24 of them on the 1st. Our full list has been sent to the BTO. Other sightings on the 1st include a generous multitude of mole hills on lawns and fields; various assorted rabbits and squirrels in the woodland; and the remaining red deadnettle still flowering from 2016. January 6th saw our first collared dove of the year visiting the ground around our feeding station. This was followed on the 9th by a colourful cock-pheasant enjoying the same facilities. On the 11th an unexpected male brimstone butterfly crossed our garden during bright sunshine and a heady 11 degrees, before disappearing over the hedge. Dusk on the 13th saw a fox attempting to raid our grandchildren’s hen coop, where their five hens were shut up for safety, and in accordance with avian flu regulations. On the 16th we were visited by a greylag goose, while the 18th found over 50 mallard ducks, about eight-times the resident population, all swimming around a narrow strip of unfrozen water around the main island, and preventing it from freezing over completely. A cold but sunny day on the 19th encouraged three long-tailed tits onto our peanuts, and our first kingfisher for some while to fish from the island willows into the unfrozen strip of water around the island. An afternoon walk in the woodland enabled us to see a secretive goldcrest silently flitting through the hornbeam coppice. Our final bird species of note were the drilling-sound of a lesser-spotted woodpecker in the woodland, and a lone fieldfare in our garden on the 21st, the latter possibly attracted by the chunks of apple we put out for the ground-feeding birds during frosty weather. This Fieldfare adopted our garden as home until the 28th, when, with the weather starting to get warmer, we counted 18 bird- species for the ‘Big Garden Bird-watch’.