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Julie's Nature Column - Spring 2016

Jun 17, 2016

Spring has arrived early this year and the Mills daffodil display is almost in full bloom. Some recent mornings have been frosty and you can see the effects on the daffs making them wilt, but by afternoon they're upright again. Many birds have been singing out their territory songs already, getting confused by the mild winter and no doubt pairing up and finding suitable nesting places. One of my favourite trees has been blooming for most of the winter. I took this photo of it at the end of January.

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The herd of deer are waiting for the grass to start growing, with most areas too short to graze, haylage and a special dry food is supplied to keep them going. Carrots and apples are always welcome and a call from me brings them over to see what I've got.

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Every winter we make a point of feeding the birds. A mix of seed, fat and coconut provides a good feast for them and our weekly volunteers from Voluntary Action Epping Forest help with the task of making the mix and the feeders. Once the feeders are hung up it doesn't take long for the birds to arrive and Hoppit Road becomes a hive of activity with plenty of photo opportunities.

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Even a Robin is keen to try it out.

One deer that is quite secretive is the Muntjac. If they see anyone they quickly run for cover or freeze like a statue in the hope that they haven't been seen. This one in the photo was running for some food that was put out for our Fallow deer until it realised that someone was nearby...me...and then it froze with a pose!

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I'm looking forward to some sunny, warmer weather and the thought of the wildlife having a better time when food is more abundant. In the meantime I'll take pleasure in feeding the deer and the birds and generally keeping an eye on the wildlife.

Julie Matthews

Nature Conservationist - Royal Gunpowder Mills


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