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January 2023 News

An update from Lindy – our Tour Guide Manager and Conservationist

Happy New Year and welcome to Balfour Winery on the beautiful Hush Heath Estate at the beginning of another new year. Although January can be a cold and dark month it is great to be outside discovering nature and winter wildlife. If we are experiencing particularly cold conditions and clear nights we are treated to crisp frost in the early mornings. Nothing is more invigorating than a morning brisk walkaround our trails, spotting hoof, claw and paw prints and identifying the numerous species that make our estate their habitat. On exceptional mornings there may be a rare hoar frost created by ice crystals forming feathery shapes in bitterly cold conditions. Their ‘artwork’ hangs from branches and twigs as well as on the ground and is exquisite.

Our estate birds most likely to be spotted include blue tits, starlings and blackbirds as well as magpies and crows.One bird which we will most often see but also hear throughout January is the robin. It sings frequently throughout winter in our woodlands and amongst the vines, but in January is sometimes the only songbird regularly heard. This species is one of the few birds which defends its territory during the cold
months and therefore its singing acts as a warning to ‘trespassers’. These beautiful little birds therefore not only provide some of the only colour in the drab months, its harmonious song is a joy in a period devoid of tweeting, humming and buzzing.

Walking through our woodland trails a roe deer may be spotted – more visible through the trees which are bare. They appear to stare straight at us, then suddenly jump in the air and take off with their amazing legs allowing them to gain speeds of 30 mph and above in the right terrain. Their ‘bounce’ is called stotting and is the same action as those antelopes in African savannah, when encountering a large cat and possibly a meal! We are privileged to share our UK countryside with our deer as they were hunted to extinction in the 17th century and since reintroduction from mainland Europe, are now amongst the most successful mammals here.

The vines are in a phase of dormancy, certainly above the ground where their fabulous autumn leaves have faded and dropped. They look very drab and lifeless – however, their root systems are utilizing soil nutrients and prepping for the growing season by taking in these important supplements, and combined with the carbohydrates stored in vine trunks, will provide theenergy needed to grow leaves and fruit after the winter has passed.

January is the beginning of an exciting new year at Balfour Winery. So much to contemplate and look forward to and what better way to
relish what is to come, on a visit followed by sampling some of our amazing produce.

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