Two weeks later than last year, I heard the first curlew of 2013 at first light yesterday morning while trudging through waist high rushes with a stack of 2′ snare stakes on my back. They are normally on the Chayne within a few days of March 1st, but if they have been holding back in order to avoid the cold weather, they’ve mistimed it. We are forecast snow tomorrow and sub-zero temperatures for the forseeable future.
Curlews are a good indicator of spring, but I will hold off my enthusiasm until the wheatears come back at the end of the month. As a personal challenge (and in an attempt to keep warm during the winter) I haven’t shaved since I saw the last wheatear in September. I may well have looked stupid all winter with a beard that would make a seven year old blush, but it has kept me good and warm. It seems madness to thwart my face’s attempt to insulate itself by scrupulously shaving every day when temperatures outside are agonisingly cold, and there have been a few times when I have been very grateful of it. It will all come off when the wheatears come, however – it promises to be quite an event.