Since its inception in summer 2016 Nature Matters has received a number of detailed articles from local residents, some of which are beautifully illustrated with photos, covering a range of seasonal nature topics centred around the local area. Please continue to send in items like this as they will form the backbone of this website page. 

We would however also like to receive shorter 'snippets' which need only be a few lines long, or just a photo if you prefer, which we can add to provide a quick snapshot of what is happening now in the country lanes or in your back garden.  Please e-mail all contributions to 



Now that the snow has almost gone - its still clinging on in the bottom of the walls - signs of spring are everywhere. The frogs are busy in the garden pond although the only frog spawn we have so far is on top of a gate post and quite how it got there I still haven't worked out! One of the garden blackbirds has started collecting material for a nest and instead of skeins of geese flying over we have the sound of curlews and lapwings all day. The snowdrops are finally past their best but the first of the small wild daffodils are in bloom in the shrubbery. Yet everyone says there'll be more snow to take the last of the old snow away - we shall see....


Beccy's father was sent this note in a Xmas card some years ago by a Japanese friend and illustrates the positive effect which nature can have on peoples lives in all parts of the world.

Next year, on our coming birthdays, say, mine March, Yoshiko October, I come to 86 years old and Yoshiko 81 years old. We two are lucky enough having been healthy and spending most of our time in studying histories of mankind and animals and insects and birds. I try to reinforce my memories by reading books that I use to read several ten’s of years ago. This trial seems to be quite effective as far as I feel. I compare the memories and intelligence of mankind with those of birds, and frogs, and fish, and ants, and cuttlefish, and dogs and cats. I come to feel almost certain that there is no difference just about the same. C’est magnifique. Our garden is lucky enough to be next to the public garden where we can be associated with cats and dogs, ravens, frogs, ants etc. every morning, daytime and night. The trees and flowers, are far aged than us animals and seem to be more intelligent than us.


Although December 21 is the shortest day, it is not until the middle of January before there is any noticeable lengthening of daylight hours. It does seem though that once we are into the New Year we can start to look forward to Spring, with the first signs of growth in the gardens and countryside.

The Hamamelis (witch hazel) by the front door now has its dark red shaggy flowers on show, and the leaves of various bulbs have pushed through the ground. The grape hyacinths have been there for weeks but the shoots of the snowdrops, crocus, bluebells and even daffodils are now all visible. One or two of the snowdrops are almost out in flower in the garden and the honeysuckle leaves in the hedgerows are now pale green.

So it may have been -4C last night with white frost everywhere but Spring is on the way.


We are delighted to find that all the little birds have returned to our garden after a seemingly quiet time. They scurry around the big tree, fighting for prime position on the feeders, whilst a couple of pheasants wait patiently for anything they drop. A woodpecker is also a daily visitor, and seems to like peanuts as much as anything. The blackbirds are more sedate, they pick about on the borders and look for worms on the lawn whilst the robins try to be boss, but don't succeed. We love to see the wrens, of which we have more each year, they are very inquisitive little things and like to look around the plant pots and mossy walls for their feed. They all have to be very careful though as a stoat comes each morning, jumping and playing on the lawn, and the buzzard comes slowly circling round, sending them all to their safe places.   C.A.S.


Re-arranging my front garden this week, I decided to move a small, pot sink planted with thyme to a new position. I carefully lifted it to one side only to find a toad sheltering underneath, a snail shell and a slug beside him. Within a minute he had disappeared, presumably back under the sink,so I left it where it was so as not to squash him.

This prompted me to investigate toad habitats online. They like to be in cool, damp, shady places. My sink is next to the rain-water down-pipe and stays quite shady. I’ve now built a toad house next to the sink by digging a shallow hole area in the soil and arranging stones and wood in a pile and covering it with an upturned broken terracotta pot. He might like to shelter there through 
the winter. emerging on warmer days to forage. They also like burying into compost heaps to hibernate.

It is the second time I have seen a toad at the front flowerbeds that are right next to the road. As anyone who walks along Main Street pavements on a summers evening knows, there are a lot of slugs about. I’m glad that I have resisted using slug pellets in the garden. As a wild toad can live between 10-12 years, it might even be the same toad I found a couple of years ago.

Apparently, toad numbers have declined by over two thirds in the last 30 years, mainly due to loss of ponds and wetland habitat. A “scruffy” corner in your garden of stones, logs and unprunned plants can help provide shelter for all sorts of wildlife through the winter. If you have a few minutes spare, why not look up toads on the internet and help them find a winter shelter in your garden. Beccy Mann


As summer draws to its end we are suddenly over-run with swallows. They once used to nest in our building but for some reason for the last three years they have had a look around but have gone elsewhere. However at the end of the season when the young ones are preparing to set off back to Africa every swallow for miles around seems to congregate here. The electricity cables running across our fields make a perfect perch and last Thursday we counted at least 90 sat on there and a few more flying around. They chatter away, sun bath on the house roof, preen themselves and rest up readying themselves for migration. How much longer they will be here we do not know but for now at least everywhere you look there are swallows. H.M.


Just one week ago Pam and I were invited to a neighbour's house to watch a pair of Spotted Flycatchers frantically feeding their young in a nest in the top corner of their front porch. It was evident from the wing flapping of the youngsters (at least three or probably four) that they would soon be leaving the nest, indeed the parents were already feeding one other chick in the branches of a tree just opposite the porch. The next day the nest was empty, there was no sign of any of them. The show was over for 2017. On four or five occasions over the last ten years I have seen Spotted Flycatchers close to the village. Three years ago a pair nested in the logs at the wood yard along Ringbeck Road. I would like to know how many I have missed. If other visitors to this website have seen them, please let us know.

Ian Corfield


Watching out of my bathroom window this morning I saw the lovely sight of three young thrushes hopping behind their Mum (or Dad?) for juicy tit-bits. I don’t use slug pellets in my garden so plenty of slugs and snails for them, and the hedgehogs. A family of blackbirds are also regular visitors at the moment. Broken snail shells are littering our gardens along Main Street at the moment.
Right on cue, two small, young fawns spotted bouncing about the field at the back of Foxgloves. They headed towards the small woodland area by Longswales stream and then back into the field shortly afterwards - Sorry no photos, not always easy to capture these wonderful sightings but great to watch from your window !

Beccy Mann


To open the longer articles please click on the links below:

June 2016. Midsummer 20.06.2016.pdf

July 2016.           First to go 01.07.2016.pdf

July 2016.         The temporary demise of the rabbit 14.07.2016.pdf

July 2016.         The turn of the year 22.07.2016.pdf

August 2016 Dreaming of the Past 04.08.2016.pdf

August 2016 Reaching up, looking forward, waning beauty 19.08.2016.pdf

August 2016 Late arrivals 27.08.2016.pdf

September 2016   Out and about in Kirkby Malzeard No.3.pdf

October 2016     No Camera! 03.10.2016.pdf

November 2016   The Sounds and Sights of Autumn 01.11.2016.pdf

December 2016   As Autumn turns to Winter.pdf

December 2016  THE DAYS GROW SHORT.pdf

January 2017    JANUARY COMES AND GOES.pdf

February 2017   SIGNS OF SPRING.pdf

April 8, 2017  Don't let Spring pass you by!.pdf