January Blues?

January seems like a stark and sterile month – it feels like everything is huddled away, sheltering from the winter weather, waiting for spring to appear – but if we venture out into the chilly surrounds, there might be more going on than we’d imagine…

Deer know how to warm the heart in January, by indulging in a little romantic dalliance – whilst some amongst the herd might have already paired up, there’s still time for the stragglers to find love.  Whilst in many deer species, the bucks often like to play away – flirting with as many does as possible – Roe deer aren’t entertaining any such fast and loose behaviour – they faithfully pair up for the season.

It’s not just deer that are looking for love in January – grey squirrels also choose this month as their most affectionate time of year.  The wily females like to give the males the run around – and many a snowy chase ensues in the pursuit of a fair maiden; but, the males do have a trick up their paws – they sneakily imitate the calls that young squirrels make – the idea is to get the females feeling all broody, which means they’ll look more favourably on his amorous advances.

The long January nights are often haunted by blood curdling cries – is this some kind of supernatural occurrence?  Sorry to ‘fox’ the ghost hunters out there, but it’s actually vixen foxes singing their siren songs to capture the heart of a dog fox.  These eerie calls sound out across the icy darkness guiding the foxes in the direction of their perfect date.  All those vocal efforts are worth it, as once they’ve coupled up, they will form a strong bond and stay together for the rest of their lives.

You mightn’t expect to see much by the sea in January, but if you venture down to the beach on a windy day, you might just spot some bright blue bobs along the shoreline!  This strange sight is the velella (also known by the rather odd name of the ‘ by-the-wind-sailor’ – you’d be forgiven for thinking this is a jelly fish, but it is in fact a colonial hydroid – a collection of tiny animals that cling together under a bright blue float.  The float helps them drift through the water, catching their dinner as they go.  If they get caught up in a winter storm, they can run ashore, creating a display of colourful costal castaways.

Now surely one thing you won’t see in January are flying insects, right?  Well, believe it or not, there is one that can tolerate the cold – the winter gnat.  As soon as a spot of January sunshine appears, these brave bugs emerge to form swarms that dance about in the warmth of the sunlight – the gathering is made up of male gnats showing off their nifty moves to encourage the females to come and take a partner.  If you suddenly find them keeping you company on your winter walk, don’t worry, it’s only your warmth that they’re after – not your blood – as these guys don’t bite (phew!)

Whilst we might have all thrown out the Christmas tree by January, coal tits certainly haven’t abandoned it – their narrow beaks are perfectly adapted to forage for little critters that might be lurking between the conifer needles.  They also like to keep their spirits up in January, by forming friendship groups with other tits – these gregarious gangs fly around enjoying a bit of winter fun together.

If you’re missing the sight of flowers, then surely you’re out of luck in January – but there are some tough plants who choose this month to blossom into bloom – the spiky yellow stars of the witch hazel burst out; and the sweet, heady fragrance of daphne flowers fill the air; but few can surpass the delightfully delicate downturned little flowers of the snowdrop – the sight of their tiny green shoots popping up through the snow is a sure sign that warmer days are soon on their way – but in the meantime, it seems like January is more busy than blue!

Published by candy hunter writer

Self publishing author - Childrens books. First book - Chuckle with Chumleigh; recently launched - Chumleigh and the Festive Secret and Chuckle with Chumleigh Again - available on Amazon.

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