Friday, 18 February 2011

The cold weather continues.



It is two degrees celsius here today with a strong South East wind blowing and a faint mist everywhere. Tonight it is forecast that we may get the best Aurora Borealis for many years (because of all the sun's activity over the past few weeks). We shall have little or no chance of seeing it as there is dense cloud cover.

It is so cold and all the wild life (and the tame life too!) is feeling the effects of this long winter. The sparrow hawk comes through daily in his/her search for food. I usually see him swoop through at around three in the afternoon - that is obviously his calling time on his round. I see him almost every day, possibly because with not driving I am around more and now I begin to look for him at about a quarter to three.

He swoops low over the hawthorne hedge, steers round the bird table and swoops back over the hedge again - all at great speed. When he has gone there is not a bird to be seen. As far as I can see he rarely catches one - just sometimes a flurry of little feathers gives the game away, but mostly he misses. And I suspect that is the story of his life. The little birds have to keep a permanent look out - but then, he needs to eat too.

As I write a huge lorry is delivering straw for the cattle in the loose housing. They too need to keep warm as the sides of the housing are open to the elements. Every morning the farmer goes among the cattle and shakes two or three bales of straw amongst them. This gets deeper and deeper as the winter progresses. It is cleaned out once (about a fortnight ago) but then left so that eventually it is quite deep. When the cattle go out to grass it is the favourite haunt of the farm cats because a) it is heating up nicely and is warm to lie in and b) it becomes home to lots of field mice and the like and they are easy pickings.

So, all in all, everything has to take care of itself over the winter - it is a case of dog eat dog. We are the top of the chain I suppose, sitting by our wood-burning stove; we provide and bedding and feed for the cattle; the cattle's bedding provides bedding and (indirectly) food for the cats - and so it goes on. We are all looking and waiting for the same thing - sunshine.

18 comments:

Heather said...

How right you are Pat. Yesterday was really pleasant and quite mild, but even down here it is grey, cold and dismal today. That is a wonderful photograph of the hawk.

jeanette from everton terrace said...

That hawk is gloriously beautiful. We have a few hawks near our home, which is a delight because I live in the middle of a huge city. Love watching them.

acornmoon said...

I thought of you when we crossed country last week, such a beautiful part of the world. I am not sure if we passed close by, I like to think we did.

angryparsnip said...

The photo of the hawk is fabulous and I love seeing the photos of your farm. lovely !

There is a hawk that has taken up residence around my land this year and I see her/him more this year than before.
Mostly I just see a long swoop of color as she gilds over my back yard and a flurry of wings as she zooms through the citrus trees. Quite a few rodents ( yea !) have been caught this way.

Wonderful Friday post !

cheers, parsnip

The Solitary Walker said...

Great pic of the sparrowhawk, Pat.

mrsnesbitt said...

Some people were talking about more snow over the weekend! I didn't join in with the conversation - didn't want to get upset in public! (Or very rude!)

Gerry Snape said...

lovely photo of the sparrowhawk Pat. I love watching them and always like it when they grace us with their presence around here, but you're right, there are no birds around when they come!

Rachel said...

... and so it goes on ... you forgot about the most important element.... muck for the land for next year's crop. Shaking the straw is called littering - well it is here at least.

MorningAJ said...

Would be nice to meet for coffee - thanks for the invite. One day we'll be that far north!

Loren said...

Needless to say, I'm jealous of that hawk picture. I'm not even sure we have that variety on this side of the world, though it may just be it goes by a different name here.

Eryl said...

That really is a tremendous photograph of the hawk, he doesn't look starving so he must get lucky sometimes.

It's been about 6ยบ here for the last few days, which feels quite warm.

Reader Wil said...

Yes, as usual you have described the situation very well. We are all longing for sunshine and spring! I saw that the snowdrops in my garden are already out!

Dartford Warbler said...

We had another feed delivery today. It is always a relief when the snow and ice has cleared and the lorry can get through. Your cattle will be glad of their warm, deep litter bed on these cold winter nights.

A wonderful photo of your sparrow hawk. Beautiful birds, but deadly!

Pondside said...

I loved the last paragraph, as it says what I feel when I go out in early morning to feed our small community of animals, all dependent on us for their water, feed and warmth. Lovely.

Jo said...

I love the way you are so connected to Earth and her ways.

Thank you for sharing that connection with us, and being such a good caretaker to the creatures around you. ♥

steven said...

weaver - stay warm! the sun is really coming back and the temperature will drift up a little and back a little then up a little more and so on. i love to see hawks. steven

Maggie said...

Thank you for leaving the comment on my blog over at mrsrunofthemills.blogspot.com
I empathised with a lot of it... as you will know from my last posting about being you we really are, my first husband collapsed and died suddenly aged 29, one minute he was alive and laughing with me, the next he had a massive cerebral haemorrhage and was dead. And I too have had life threatening illness, major, major surgery, and now live with a transplant, and am thankful for it every day. So as I said, I empathised with much of what you said.
Oh and it is so long, too long, since I was last in your part of the world... I am a Yorkshirewoman and proud of it, from the West Riding originally.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Glad you all liked the photograph of the hawk - am amazed that you thought I had taken in (and mildly flattered too) - I got it from the internet and as I think I might have been breaking copyright I have removed it this morning after you have all had a chance to see it in all its glory.