Unlike the rest of Britain, Dumfries and Galloway appears to be avoiding the worst of the snow, but we’re making up for it by having serious sub zero temperatures at night to keep hold of what little dusting we had last week. The Chayne is starting to look quite treacherous for an old Rover, and clattering up over the ice packs today had me wondering if I was ever going to make it home again.
Tall grasses mean that most of the high ground on the Chayne looks like it has come under frost, and it’s only in open fields where the snow has really settled. When the real snows come in January, they crush the tall grass down to create a suspended crust above the ground. Walking becomes a real challenge as you have to step through a thigh high blanket, held up by heather and the cursed molinia grass. Those pleasures still await, and I was happy to walk easily through less than two inches of snow as I went out to check my stoat traps along the dykes around the windbreak.
Not only has the snow allowed me to see where the vermin is moving, but it has revealed a near miss with a stoatthat took place overnight. I followed fresh tracks with high hopes as they moved towards one of my tunnel traps, but inspecting the mouth of the little hand-made cairn, I saw that the stoat had peered into it, but instead of stepping inside to meet his maker, he had doubled back and vanished into the dyke ten feet back. I suppose it’s only a matter of time before he steps in to investigate, but it was frustrating to see how near I had come to taking him out of the picture altogether.
The corn I have been throwing into the windbreak continues to vanish, but I’m now very aware of the fact that my feeding the wood is disturbing alot of the birds. In an effort to avoid scaring them out of the wood every time I feed it, I’ve made a small catapult which means I can fling large quantities of corn where it is needed without going in on foot and stirring everything up. Nonetheless, a hen pheasant burst out of the wood and fluttered away over the bog. The wood is so small that, until I can plant it up with some dense undergrowth, I’ll always struggle to feed it without disturbing birds, but the only thing I can do for now is to keep pushing on.