Survival of fittest on those frosty days

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Last December was mild wet and grey all month, writes George Hogg (Hogg Estate Services).

So hopefully, this one will be a bit brighter.

So far so good, with some lovely bright days and sharp crisp mornings.

Of course, even sunny days in winter are only mild in those spots the sun reaches.

In the shade, frost can hold on with its icy grip right through these short days, only to be reinforced after dark ready for another day of stubborn squatting.

There is no denying there is great beauty to be seen in a frosted landscape.

And, of course, if you study frosted surfaces up close, the brittle delicacy and intricacy of its patterns puts any man-made crystal to shame.

Frost also allows us to walk on mud with impunity.

Where previously boots would sink and squelch, now all is as hard as a tarred footpath.

But that is all very well for us humans with our nice warm homes to return to.

Think of the many creatures to whom the countryside is home. Imagine living in a house with no windows and no heating?

This is the reality of winter to our fellow species – the birds, insects and beasts of the countryside.

It is why so many folk feed their garden birds in winter and why farmers cart extra rations out to their sheep.

But what of summer’s butterflies and moths?

What of the roe deer, fox and badger?

If you have a garden pond, what of your frogs, toads or newts at this season?

All have their own special adaptations and survival tactics to cope with winter, but all suffer losses to these cold, dark days and long nights.

I am sure very few have any cause to admire frost, and even less reason to welcome snow, that all covering shroud which can lock up their larders for days or weeks on end.