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Love is in the air! Spring is really trying to be around the corner. I'm beginning to really enjoy the days as they lengthen and hearing the

variety of bird song in the early mornings. As birds begin the task of finding both nest sites and mates, other species

are starting to awaken from their winter sleep. This month has seen the chill of Winter continue, with frozen water,

bitter winds and thick blankets of snow on the ground.

My poor horses seem confused - should they begin the process of shedding

their winter coats, or hang on to that cosy thick layer for now?

Looking out onto the river Liddle, I see the oyster catchers are back to nest here.

So far we have spotted several flying about and chattering loudly . I also had the

pure delight of watching two otters feeding and playing in the river. One was

smaller than the other and I realised it must be her young as she fed and

shared her fish with it on the banking.

We watched them both for maybe 15 minutes, emerging out of the water like

dolphins, feeding and playing . Then they just went slinking away. What a treat!

A sparrow hawk has been visiting our garden almost daily. It's an obvious and easy hunting ground as our bird feeders have a continuous flow of garden birds. The sparrow hawk comes in disguise using a gathering of crows to fly in with,

the crows take up a perch at the tops of the oak tree, while the sparrow hawk

takes his chance and swoops, flying direct like an arrow to the feeding station. With a blink of an eye the sparrow hawk has wiped out a great tit, pinned the

small bird to the ground , plucked and devoured. It's an unbelievably quiet, skilled,athletic bird.

Think I'll start a 'bird of the month' with the Sparrow hawk as my choice

for February! Keep a look out for them yourselves, they fly low, cupping close over hedges and shrubs, and they are stunning to watch.

As it has been a cold month, I've opted on occasion to not sit in my cabin,

but to sit by the fire and enjoy sketching using not only graphite but

colour pencils too. I find so much inspiration in nature - there's

never a problem finding things to draw.

I'm looking forward to the next Langholm farmers market ( first Saturday every month) with some of my new drawings and paintings. THINGS TO DO THIS MONTH

●Keep a look out for a sparrow hawk

●Have a walk along the riverside and see if you can spot an oyster catcher. The are very distinctive black and white bird with orange legs and beaks. They're very noisy too.

●Buds on trees and shrubs


I will see you again next month -

Keep watching - and loving - nature!

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