Which was a first.
Mid twenties last week, below freezing this week, our fruit trees are very confused which may mean there will be fewer of our five a day about this year.
The quince appears particularly befuddled.
The weed is pushing clear of the water in places and just needs a bit of a tickle up with the scythe to check its growth. Once it flowers, ranunculus often loses some of its vigor. Delaying the flowering via the medium of short back and sides should result in it remaining a viable resource in maintaining mid summer river levels.
Bankside willows are approaching full fuzz and the inky black flowers of the sedge in the margins are up, out and stand in stark contrast to the recent dusting of snow.
Here’s one of a hare.
I may have missed him/her, they are that quick.
There’s a pair about somewhere and they do occasionally nest in these parts. A few years ago, a friend popping at pigeons on our top strip of rolled down game cover in March witnessed a peregrine stoop on his heavy duty plastic whirly gig decoy. It paused briefly on the ground, stunned in order to gather its thoughts. They can hit their target at well over a hundred miles an hour.
Geilgud (After Moley) is getting grumpy
It is fixed to the ivy covered dead trunk of a Christmas tree and normally plays host to a pair of jackdaws. We are a very “owl rich” part of the world. The old pig hospital that has been converted into a very expensive letting, often had a barn owl in its rafters that would hunt over the water meadows in the half light. People in fine fleece and cutting edge walking shoes insisted that if the conversion of the building was to go ahead owl boxes must be installed in the surrounding trees. I never saw the barn owl anywhere near them but the tenant’s white cat liked to kick back in them for some shuteye of an afternoon.
Back in the eighties on the middle river, an estate ran a barn owl rearing programme and placed owl boxes throughout their extensive meadow system. When the people in fine fleece and cutting edge walking shoes arrived to survey the boxes they found a third of them full of nesting mandarin duck, a non native species introduced from the east back in the day and not quite what they had hoped for.
I think that was everything, we are way ahead in preparations for the trout season. A few small jobs remain and banks must be mown but with the weed now cut we are ready to go. There are plenty of fish about, the river is in great condition and I have seen a hawthorn fly. Still no sign of swallows or swifts and no cuckoo yet but when this uncomfortable cold snap is through spring will spring with a resounding Tadah! and will be most welcome after the January through to March that we have all just experienced.