The first 10 days of January were, with the exception of January 2nd, consistently mild, generally windy, and very wet, with 189 mm of rain getting the year off to a typically soggy start.
There were few chances for photography since light levels were so low, no chances for bees to fly out, and it was generally a time for hunkering down with a good book, when we weren’t filling potholes on our track, to keep it useable. With the milder weather, snowdrop numbers in flower began to catch up with the normal pattern in recent years, and Cyclamen coum, Daphne bholua, Crocus sieberi ‘Firefly’ and Helleborus x hybridus all had first blooms above ground in the first week of the month.
At last the 16th saw the rain stop, and a day of almost unbroken sunshine. One hive at least was still surviving with bee activity. Hurrah!
Just as were were getting used to mild, wet and grey weather, an inkling of snow and a high pressure system, quickly morphed into the risk of snow showers on the 17th. Hail then fell, a really sharp frost followed, more hail and sleet the following day, then a melt and another hard frost, and we suddenly had melded ice/hail/snow on all surfaces, and temperatures barely above freezing all day.
The upside to all this was we had wonderful sunshine almost all day for 3 days in a row, which always presents fabulous views and light.
Having been sent the off-cut circles from our “Ripples” project, I had the idea of trying to turn them into a mobile form, adorned with lichen fragments salvaged from fallen larch branches and twigs. Fiona spent ages sorting and sticking them onto the circles, with some success, though some quickly fell off!
It needs a bit of tweaking but so far the effect is wonderful, with it moving in unexpected ways, in even the lightest of winds. How durable the stuck on lichen will be, remains to be seen!
What was even better, on the afternoon of the 20th, when temperatures had barely risen above freezing, and hoar frost crystals were continuing to grow in the tyre garden I heard, and then saw an active honey bee near the Daphne bholua flowers in the copse. Returning with the camera, the bee had gone, but on checking out the most likely hive source, up at the hay shed, I was amazed to see vigorous flying by many bees – all black bodied – at 3.p.m., as the sun was dropping and the laser thermometer registered minus 7 degrees C on the croquet lawn snow. Amazing!
In the end it took almost 2 weeks for the last vestiges of snow to disappear, and the month ended with a rainfall tally of 290.5 mm, and a PV inverter reading of 96.6 KWH.
Nearly all the rain fell in the first half of the month, which was therefore curiously split into two parts. Finally by January 30th, the sun again, temperatures climbed into high single figures, and the honeybees at last discovered the opening snowdrop flowers, around 12.30 p.m. 3 hives showed some signs of activity, though I’m still undecided if one is/has been robbed.