Hard Weather

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Feeding geese, with the Lakes beyond

After an excellent frost and the first real snow of the winter, it was a good moment to head for the hills in the low sun this afternoon. Geese were on the move down in the bay, and it was thrilling to find a field of winter wheat so chock-full of birds that it was standing room only. There were lapwings and black headed gulls and golden plover, skirted all around by bouncing fieldfares. Redwings posted sentries in the tall hawthorns and starlings massed in swarms while a gang of twenty curlews probed their way sadly to and fro in the damper corners.

Invisible to the naked eye, the binoculars picked out gangs of thirty and forty pied wagtails and meadow pipits, and the whole mass erupted at the low-level patrol of a buzzard which dropped off his perch on the top of a telegraph pole and coasted through the middle, creating open havoc.

Afterwards, there was a sharp smell of fox in the bracken, then I turned down to mindless yap and clatter of barnacle geese on the silage fields towards the bay, with the setting sun casting the Lake District snow into pink.

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