On the first day of Christmas

Black-backed gulls on Christmas Day by David Steel

Mosslands birding legend Dave Steel begins his 12 days of Christmas on the moss with a slow, slow sunrise - Merry Christmas

This day’s encounter with the wild could easily read: “The dawn seemed to struggle to arrive.”

The ground was frosty, the air was cold, I went back to bed, but it didn’t end in my retreat, it propelled me over to Little Woolden Moss for a wander about the reserve.

The dawn broke rather nicely as a kestrel gave silhouette views for my camera whilst four great black backed gulls (uncommon visitors to the moss) had their morning paddle in the east pool. The day’s Wild was getting on with Christmas morn quite well it seemed.

A buzzard then rose from its breakfast (eating the remains of wood pigeon, the Wild’s Christmas turkey it seems? It gave itself a good shake, putting its feathers back into good order. It peered into a now clear blue sky as we had both heard the wild calling out the contact call of a skein of pink-footed geese, which were wasting no time in their rush to the east coast.

Later, seven whooper swans kindly made but one contact call as they too headed east. My camera just about caught a glimpse of them before this further instalment of wildlife encounters filled my Christmas morn wander, which was rapidly drawing to a close as my traditional breakfast with the grandchildren drew me homeward.

To bring my mind upon this magical dawn for children - of all ages - I then invented a scenario. That the rather odd mosslands sighting of a Coastguard helicopter, moving about our moss, could easily have been rescuing Santa from a peaty pooled landing. It had happened after he had delivered his final toys to a remote farmhouse on our “Wild Open Space” that seems ready to offer plenty of wildlife to record.

Kestrel at sunrise by Dave Steel

Kestrel at sunrise by Dave Steel