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.