After a glorious week of sunshine in Crete we returned to lashings of rain. Ishbel has a locally bought car; the windscreen wipers turn on automatically as you cross the Lancashire/Cumbria border. The rivers were rising dangerously: a large tree, travelling at speed down the River Cocker, embedded itself in the parapet of Main Street bridge in a desperate attempt to escape, and my first job was to erect the flood defences. After that it snowed and since then we've had storms Arwen and Barra to contend with. Welcome to winter!
December 1st is the beginning of 'meteorological winter'. True winter starts with the solstice on the 21st. It marks a turning point in the year – from this point, the nights, slowly but surely, begin to get shorter and the days longer. Gorse remains in flower and we eagerly await the first snowdrops, followed by the crocuses and lesser celandines. Meanwhile, in Crete, I have recorded no fewer than 64 plants in flower during the winter months.
The majority of insects rely on plants in one way or another and the numbers show a similar trend. 129 species recorded by myself in Crete in the winter months, as opposed to only 5 in Cumbria.
Birds come out more evenly, 30-40 species in each location. Despite the lack of insects, the north of England sees a great influx during the winter months as birds seek to escape the even harsher conditions of the Arctic. European migratory species tend to by-pass Crete on their journeys to sub-Saharan Africa, but as the climate warms, I have noticed that more species are choosing to overwinter in Crete.
All of which, serves as an introduction to next year's blog series: The European Nature Almanack, which I shall begin at the end of this month with things to look out for in January, both in Crete (35 degrees north of the equator) and Cumbria (55 degrees north of the equator). I'd be interested to learn of your observations if you live between those latitudes.
Until next time,
All the best,
Stuck for a gift idea for Christmas? Inexpensive, easy to wrap, light to carry (and if you order now you might even be able to read them before you wrap them!)
Chubby's Crematorium & Burger Bar
A book of humorous poems to cheer, amuse and entertain your friends with.
The Quick Guide to Creepy-Crawlies
All you need to know to identify any type of insect, spider, worm or snail very simply and find out more about it.
Yvonne: This was a gift for a family so that the children can understand what they see on days out. The second was for me. Logical and easy to use. If you know anyone who likes nature you can be confident that gifting this book will give years of pleasure.
A science fiction novella for those who don't like science fiction. A fast-paced thriller that is, literally, out of this world (and it starts right here in Crete).
Not Just For Twisted Women by Steve Daniels
A light-hearted look at life through the eyes of the fairer sex.
Janet: If you are short on time but enjoy reading and are maybe not into long extended novels then Not Just For... Twisted Women provides readers with concise stories that stand alone and most certainly entertain with their ultimate twists. Loved it.
Helen: A very good read! Well written and entertaining!
Margaret: Each quick tale gives a glimpse into a character's life and has an often humorous twist at the end. I would love to read more.
Yvonne: These days many people find it hard to find the time to read a novel, so this book of short stories is ideal to dip into. It is also makes a good gift.
See sample pages of all my books and latest blogs, and keep abreast of latest publications here:
Crete Nature Catch-up
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