Sunday, 10 December 2017

Significant snow

9 December 
Over the last twenty-four  hours we've received the first significant snow of the winter. Unfortunately, as far as plants are concerned, it is perhaps of the worst kind; not a protective blanket which would protect bulbs and ground-hugging species from icy blasts but a thin coating of barely a centimetre. On the other hand birds should not be too inconvenienced, finding areas with barely any snow, and as for those heavy falls which can break branches on conifers, we haven't experienced anything like that for years hereabouts. I must keep the bird feeder topped up.
I briefly visited Byfield. At one point I looked up and a Red Kite, Milvus milvus, drifting over. Many years ago I frequently saw kites in Aden (Yemen) but they were Black Kites, Milvus migrans. They often visited refuse dumps and we - rough soldiery* - always referred to them as Shite Hawks; for some unaccountable reason I suddenly thought of Boris Johnson. But a Red Kite performs a useful role.
10 December
Whoops! What was I saying yesterday? By ten o'clock we had received seven inches (20 centimetres) of snow and it was still falling heavily. 
Hardly the stuff of lyric poems. All interest concealed by snow.
Stefen Hill, Daventry. 10 December, 2017
I have kept an eye on the bird feeder but apart from a few blue tits there have been no visitors. I must move it to a more prominent position. A lone song thrush sat on a neighbour's fence for the best part of an hour, motionless. I could say that it brought to mind 'The Darkling Thrush' by Thomas Hardy, but I would be lying; far from being 'frail, gaunt and small' this bird seemed in excellent health, and the 'land's sharp features' of Hardy's landscape were no more than the gable ends of neighbouring houses. No, the scene from my suburban window was hardly the stuff of lyric poems.
Tomorrow I'll get suitably dressed and brave the elements. Borough Hill - or would that too much of an ordeal?


* In fact I was in the Royal Air Force, but piffling pedantry seems pretty pointless..

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