Wildlife

The Big Thaw

One of the first casualties to surface.
One of the first casualties to surface.

Now that the snow is finally starting to drip, some ghoulish remains are beginning to surface. There has been no real snow for the past ten days, but only in the last forty eight hours has the sun really managed to get a bite in to the frozen hillsides. Walking across a corner of the farm yesterday morning at first light, I came across the corpses of some sheep which were just beginning to poke through the crust of snow, and I later came across a cluster of dead bodies which had been immaculately preserved behind the remains of a broken down dyke.

There was a blackcock calling somewhere down in the drifted haggs, but picking him out was an impossible prospect as the same bitter easterly wind came scouring over the knowes and up behind my glasses to make my eyes water. The curlews have finally returned with some confidence, so I am banking on their weather forecasting skills to mean that spring is finally on its way. They left the Chayne the day before the big dump of snow, so they obviously knew that something bad was coming. I hope that their return will now mean that we can get on with the rest of the year, rather than forever lagging in winter.

I spent this morning planting another one hundred and fifty hawthorn trees into a new section of hedge, and it occurred to me that in a normal year, the dykes would be clacking and winking with wheatears by now. I have heard that there are already wheatears down south, and while I don’t blame them for not having made the trip up yet, they need to get a move on. The curlews are a month late, and it’ll be a difficult game of “catch-up” for everyone unless they buck their ideas up.

 

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