November 2001

Friday 2nd November – Barnsley Canal – There are now far fewer Haws on the Hawthorns, indicating the busy feeding of the numerous Redwings occupying the valley. Rose Hips, by contrast, seem to not to have been touched. A lone Robin stands on a fence post and ticks angrily at our passing. The Mute Swan family cannot be found so it seems the cygnets have found their wings and flown the nest!

Sunday 4th November – Pugney’s Country Park – A fair number of duck are on the small pond – Wigeon, Shoveler, Mallard and a lone Teal. Great Crested Grebe are spread out across the large lake. A single Little Grebe bobs in the middle. Lapwings, Golden Plover are murmuring on the spit amongst a large number of Black-headed Gulls. A few stunted Ragwort and Chamomile are still flowering in the grass.

Monday 5th November – Barnsley Canal – It is quiet down along the tow path. The Robin from previous days occupies the same fence post. Crab Apples litter the path from the single tree. The Mute Swans have returned.

Tuesday 6th November – Home – Grey Squirrels are becoming a problem. Holes have appeared in the lawn and in the vegetable patch. There are probably numerous seeds hidden in the soil. One is feeding on the bird table. Four or five Blackbirds are chasing around the little ponds, bathing in a flurry of water.

Saturday 10th November – Barnsley Canal – The weather has turned bitterly cold. The last few days have seen flurries of snow, but it has not laid to any great extent. Chaffinches are pinking loudly to each other from either side of the canal. The Mute Swans have departed again. There is a thin layer of ice on puddles on the tow path. A double flash of white on dark grey signals a disappearing pair of Bullfinches. On the other side of the foot bridge I am surprised to see a Moorhen run across the green mat of water weed. A little pebble thrown onto the canal proves that it has frozen. A Jay flies up from the rough grass at the bottom of Willowbank into the Hawthorns.

Home – A flock of Mistle Thrushes flies overhead, calling harshly. Half a dozen Greenfinches occupy the bird table after it has been replenished with seeds. A Coal Tit and a Great Tit dash in and grab sunflower seeds and retreat into the apple trees. Blackbirds chase around the large flowering cherry, which still has most of its leaves, although they are golden brown and dropping steadily. Three Grey Squirrels head for the bird table but Dill the Dog sees them off. Collared Doves search under the table for fallen titbits.

Saturday 17th November – Barnsley Canal – Bullfinches, Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Blackbirds and a Wren are all feeding in the little car park at the canal’s end. They scatter on our arrival. Rooks fly overhead, cawing noisily. The area is still green, although autumnal tints of yellow and brown are creeping in. A Dabchick dives quietly in the centre of the canal. A mare and foal are feeding on the far bank, eating nettles. I idly wonder if that is like us eating chillies, probably not. Several Bullfinches and Long-tailed Tits fly out of the Hawthorns and up Willowbank. Blackbirds are plentiful, large numbers in yellow-leaved Silver Birches by the canal. Others whoop quietly in the Hawthorns. A few Redwings sit at the top of the Birches. More Bullfinches and Goldfinches fly around, the latter twittering excitedly. Dill the Dog’s Saturday night in the pub friend, Prince is on the opposite bank. Prince, a large black and white Spaniel, comes across the concrete bridge to greet her. Dill the Dog crosses back in front of him, but then decides to come back to my side. This is a mistake as Prince is a far heavier dog and brushes her aside. Being only room for one on the bridge, off Dill the Dog goes, fortunately only down a foot or two onto dry land – it would have been far messier if this had occurred in the middle! A flock of Fieldfares sit in Hawthorns up the hill. Another large flock is beside the canal, maybe a hundred or more. A Kestrel flies low over the bushes of Willowbank, jinking in the air.

Wednesday 21st November – Dearne Valley Park, Hoyle Mill – The opposite side of the valley is a steep incline leading up to Monk Bretton. It is covered with trees, mainly Silver Birch and Oak, with a few Alder and Maple. The whole view is a mass of gold, yellows and ochres. However, despite the strong gusts of wind, there is hardly any leaf fall, never mind the blizzard of leaves one would expect as we head for December. A few Black-headed Gulls fly up the valley.


North Lincolnshire – Large flocks of Golden Plover arrow across the sky. A Kestrel hovers in the squally wind, its whole body, tail and wings constantly in motion to keep its head in a stable position to search for prey below.

Wednesday 28th November – Home – Recent frosts has loosened the leaves and there has been a large fall in the last few days. Everything is damp and grey. The last apples are falling now, the garage is full, the kitchen side is full and they keep coming! A Jay feeds on the bird table – a first. It is chased off by a Blackbird and disappears up into the trees with a blaze of black and white rump.