Nature is now counting down to the winter solstice on the 21st December, when the nights start slowly drawing out again. Most of the deciduous trees have now dropped their leaves, the scar that shows where each leaf dropped, already carrying the potential for next year's bud.
This is the time of year when we realise how important the mixture of both deciduous and evergreen trees is. The leaf litter provides shelter and food for bugs and insects, and in their turn, they will turn some of it into new soil. But the cover afforded by the evergreens gives shelter to larger birds such as owls and other raptors - mainly hawks. Low to the ground, the salal, itself an evergreen, becomes shelter for some smaller birds and mammals.
The pond has all but gone to sleep, the turtles nestled in the mud at the bottom, breathing through special cells in the base of their tail. Frogs and tadpoles need water to breathe, so they are in the layer of water just above the mud. There are bugs at all levels, some lay their eggs which survive in the mud until springtime, the larva of others still needs to feed in the middle layer and others still, like the water boatman, remains active throughout the winter and can be seen rowing away beneath the ice layer on colder days.