• Ian Cognito

Through the Window - October 2021

If you have been out and about around sunrise you will have seen the stunning sunrises we’ve had over the last few days. The colours do not last for long but they have been spectacular. I think that if you painted one of our sunrises and showed it to someone not normally out and about at that time they would possibly find it hard to believe.


a Norfolk sunrise
Sunrise over Ramm's Lane late October

I was reminded of the old saying ‘Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight. Red sky in the morning, shepherds warning’. Like many an old saying they are not just ‘old wives’ tales’ they have some basis in truth. Like the childhood nursery rhyme, ‘Ring a ring of roses’, which stems from the time of the Black Death.

I wondered did the red sky saying have a basis in truth, and when was it first used. I did a search on Google and the answers I found surprised me a little. Apparently it is reported that the saying, or very similar, was said by Jesus during one of his teachings to help shepherds prepare for the weather the next day.


a Norfolk sunset
A fiery sunset over St Andrew's Lane

But what about a scientific approach? Does the saying do what it says on the tin? Apparently, yes, it does to a certain extent because a red sky at night generally means fair weather is heading toward you, with a high pressure moving in from the west, indicating the next day will usually be dry and pleasant.

However, a red sky in the morning is caused by a high pressure weather system already having moved east, meaning the good weather has passed over. Also meaning there could be a wet and windy low pressure system on its way.

In the UK the movement of weather systems is predominantly from west to east, so a red sky in the morning indicates the sky is clear to the east, where the sun is rising, but possibly cloudy overhead. Which often suggests bad weather is on the way.

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Hedgehogs hibernate over the winter and depending on how mild the weather is, hibernation can take place between October and April. However, in a warmer winter they may still be out in December. To prepare for hibernation they eat as much as they can during Autumn to build up sufficient fat reserves to see them over the winter. They can build their own winter shelter out of dead leaves, twigs, feathers and moss, or they can hide in stacks of logs, compost heaps or under garden sheds.

As hedgehog numbers are declining across the country they really could do with some help. So if you can leave a pile of logs alone for them to use. Or maybe put out some ‘proper’ hedgehog food for them (pet shops locally may sell this) that would be good.

But remember, hedgehogs are nocturnal. If you see one out during the day it is probably in trouble and need your help. Small late season hoglets are particularly at risk as they will not have put on sufficient reserves of body fat to see them through the winter. In this case it may be best to take them to the PACT animal sanctuary.

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Each year we get a crop of Fly Agaric Mushrooms in the garden. Although they are quite beautifully coloured, they are highly hallucinogenic. I have tried to stop them spreading without much success. Each year their area gets a bit bigger. This year I pulled them out. Luckily I didn’t hallucinate, although I was a bit surprised to see a unicorn gallop down the hedge line. What I would have seen if I’d hallucinated I dread to think.



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This is the time of year when nature can put on a grand display of colour, especially the leaves of trees. Something to watch out for while desperately driving around the area looking to find a garage with petrol in stock.


Following some of the things I’ve seen on the television gardening programmes, I’ve tried to create a ‘red’ corridor, or stripe across the garden. It has taken a while to do so, but now there are Red Dogwoods, photinia, dogwood trees (stunning red), and the leaves of flowering plum trees.



But while on the subject of leaves; what do you do with them? Different gardening magazines give differing advice. Such as, fill black garden bags with them, poke a few holes in the back then leave for a couple of years and you will have leaf compost. Others say, sweep them into piles (the trouble with that is the wind redistributes them around the garden later); or make an animal house with a leaf roof. See hedgehogs above.

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According to a gardening magazine, some more dominant bird species are ousting less dominate ones from garden bird feeders. For instance, as an example, they quote the blue tit as ousting lesser spotted woodpeckers. I can’t say I’ve noticed this sort of thing in my garden over the time I’ve been bird spotting. Perhaps time will tell.

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In the last Through The Window I commented on how there had been an almost complete collapse of the wasp population in my garden. I mentioned the Norfolk Wildlife Trust suggested this was only a temporary thing caused by the bad weather earlier in the year. They said it was possible that a late sunny spell could see the wasps return. Sadly, this has not happened. We shall see what happens next year.


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