The interminable cold of this winter continues to have a hold on northern Europe and snow still lies on the ground in our patch of Hertfordshire. This has often meant that the fireside is more appealing than the outside, so wildlife watching trips have been a little infrequent, though the eyes are always watching.
Snow on the ground has helped us spot a pair of song thrushes rooting through the leaf litter in the beds at the top of the garden, bringing the promise of the pair nesting close by over the coming weeks. Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Chaffinch have joined the five species of tits we have visiting at the feeders, with a pair of greater spotted woodpeckers also making regular visits to the peanuts.
The barn owls also remain local and in a pair, their late afternoon hunting forays giving us good opportunities to watch them along the lanes and field edges around the village. At times this can be at extremely close quarters as I found out a few days ago. Walking down the lane a bird lifted from a branch 30 yards in front of me, the slow beats of it’s wings sending it towards me at head height. A passing car came to a halt beside me as the driver and I watched the bird’s graceful approach before it passed by my shoulder and then swung away to follow the field edge in search of supper.
Hares are filling the fields, clearly visible across the open expanses due to the weather induced slow start to the growing year.
Heart-warming stories of communities coming together to rescue sheep and lambs from snow-drifts are thankfully not necessary in the south-east, though arable farmers are also expressing concern over this year’s harvest if the bad weather continues
The forecasters tell us that the jet stream’s position for-tells another month of cold before the warmth of spring finally arrives. One suspects that the domestic animals as well as the wildlife would rather March was ending more like the traditional lamb than the roaring winter lion we still have with us.
I certainly do.