Winter has finally arrived here in the British Isles we have had the first ground frosts of the year and the winds are sweeping in from the north bringing hail and snow. I can’t complain though as we have had one of the mildest autumns that I can remember. As the seasons change and the leaves fall, you notice things that summer kept hidden. The woodland in which we practice archery is not very large and with less cover on the trees. It is possible to see across it in places. Two streams join together and flow southwards out of the wood, dividing it up and helping with the setting of shots by providing dead ground and interesting settings. We have seen footprints in the mud along the banks earlier in the year and now that the vegetation has thinned out, the culprit has been seen. It is a Mink. These animals are not native to the British Isles but have escaped from fur farms and have found our countryside very much to their liking. We share our woodland with a pheasant shooting syndicate who put down a good number of young birds for the shooting season and no doubt they will have lost some to the mink. I think the young birds will will already have a price on their heads. I think that I have found its den (not sure if this is the correct name for a minks home. Maybe somebody over in the USA knows?) under some tree roots about a foot above the normal water level of the stream there are two entrances with well trodden pathways leading to them. I spent a good twenty minutes struggling to get a good look inside but will have to go back with some waders as the only way would be to wade waist deep in the stream. This may seem a strange thing to want to do but I have always found the homes of animals interesting ever since I was five years old and looked into a foxes earth and saw three pairs of amber colored eyes staring back out of the darkness.
I feel privileged to see these things and rewarded for taking the time and making the effort to get out into the woodland. Far too many people over here never venture out of towns and city’s and have become detached from the natural world. They really do not know what they are missing. Field Archery has given me the opportunity to visit many places that are off the beaten track and to observe our wildlife in all its shapes and sizes from the Red Deer Stags of the Highlands to the tiny shrews that live among the fallen logs and moss. Of all the British Wildlife, foxes hold a special interest for me as they seem to have the ability to survive no matter what odds are against them. They have even found opportunities to survive in urban areas by scavenging on the things that we throw away… this is a testament to their will to survive. So as the weather gets more and more winter-like I will not sit in the warm comfort of my home. I will go out and experience all the conditions that our climate throws at us whether its doing Archery or simply walking my dogs, I will enjoy each day what ever it brings and look forward to the coming year.
So as the snow deepens and the temperatures drop remember… There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing! (See why we love her!?)
Best Wishes to you all and good luck in the new year.