after rain the sky cleared last night and there was another sharp frost. the rising moon looked like a piece of orange cheese in the south east. this morning we walked in Holt Lowes again, in the sunshine.


the frost had turned the dead bracken fronds into chilly filigree lace.


silver birches have colonised this piece of old heathland now it is not grazed. I like them, but the keepers of Holt Lowes are keeping up a running battle against them. there are still plenty and in the cold sharp light their fine twigs make a soft grey cobweb against the pale branches.


now all the bracken is flattened these birch woods seem very open. a russet, silver and black composition.


T is keeping a lookout for wildlife. there are muntjac about, which is a worry, they will attack a dog with their tusks if threatened. to the left of this path is a boggy wilderness of birch, fallen branches everywhere in a deep black peaty mire.


and amongst the birch, reeds and mounds of sphagnum moss.


more tree-felling, this time its an oak. a large area of woodland has been felled, and they are trying to keep it open and encourage heather growth by a combination of cutting and spraying, as the birch re-seed rapidly, and gorse grows back quickly until shaded out. there are species belonging to a heath habitat which will be lost if the woodland takes over. there are also attempts to graze it down, but they are not intensive enough to produce the same effect as commoners using the heath as a resource for grazing and firewood.


the pond has a cloudy film of ice


it is one of a series which drain from boggy surfaces here, and then into the Glaven which is close by. more sphagnum. this place is a naturalist’s paradise.


frosted moss on the path by another stand of birch.


this landscape must be very similar to the one our hunter-gatherer ancestors encountered as tundra turned to woodland after the last ice age.


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