The 13 pochards feeding on the lake recently were the third highest count in the last 30 years, as recorded by our resident ecologist Dr Dave Dawson. This species is red-listed because of declining breeding numbers, so the increase is encouraging. The recent arrival of colder weather after a long mild wet spell has halted most flowers, but the dog’s mercury in Horse Close Wood, purple-leafed cherry plums by the downstream brook and some daffodils are out. A song thrush has been singing in Horse Close Wood, and great-spotted woodpeckers drumming in both woods.