I spent a frosty olde morning at the foot of the South Downs where the Sussex Weald dissolves into the wetlands of the Arun Valley. I’m no early riser, so these experiences of frosty landscapes are to be treasured.
Everything was iced over.
Last year’s daisy heads were encrusted with ice, lit by the sun as it broke over the tree line.
Wiggonholt Common resides next to Pulborough Brooks the RSPB reserve. It’s a heathland nature reserve home to nightjar, woodlark and other uncommon birds. The views you can get of the heathland and its smattering of pines give it a look of real vulnerability. That’s about right though, as heathland in England is a rare habitat now.
The sun just began to break through the trees and light the trunks of these five pines.
Over on the other side of the common, the sun hadn’t arrived yet. The muddy paths were frozen still and the hoar frost decorated the birch trees growing at the heathland edge.
In the reserve proper, a single oak can be seen at the edge of the farmland where the Arun’s wetlands begin.
Pulborough is a good place to see communities of lichens like cladonia where they splash out across the green timber fencing. No chemicals are in the timber which means the lichens and other fungi proliferate.
The upturned chandeliers of hogweed flowerheads.
Spider silk hung from the twigs of the trees like silly string.
Yellow brain or witches butter, a fungus, looked like a proper tree-bogey.
The spiders webs that remained were laced with frost, as this L-shaped twig displayed so well.
Bracken looking somewhat birdlike, like the back of a golden eagle as it surveys the landscape. Or just some bracken.
The lagoons were glassily calm, marked by the winter calls of waders like redshank. I’m not very good with wading birds, I’m better in the woods. In the distance you will see the South Downs on a clearer day. The mist still sat there to hide them from lowland eyes, with temperatures as low as at least -3.
On my way in a couple had stood for minutes staring through binoculars at a song thrush on the path. I was waiting for them to look away so I could nip by, but it went on for so long I started to wonder if they were statues paid for by Swarovski. Their song thrush was enjoying a moment in the sun as I made my way back up to the exit. A worthy perch for this mighty songster.
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