Saturday, 21 March 2009

Another day, another week.











Another trip to the feed merchants this morning, mainly for wild bird food. We feed our wild birds all the year round and have a super variety right outside our kitchen window. This morning there were 24 chaffinch - the males looking absolutely splendid in full breeding plumage. All the way along the lane the hedge tops had pairs of birds - yellow hammer, dunnock, blackbird, jackdaw.
It is a real Spring day today = the weather behaving exactly as it should do on the first full day of Spring. It is set to get cooler over the next few days and already, this morning, the wind has veered round to the North West, but still there is that faint haze over the land and that sense of waiting which I always feel this time of year. and that smell of rising greenery. And it is not just we humans who sense this - the birds too are feeling it - you can tell by their behaviour. As I pass by Black Plantain two blackbirds are scrapping in the middle of the road. I have to stop and blow my horn before they move. All along the ride male pheasant strut about, startlingly brilliant chests stuck out, vivid green heads up and alert for any sign of a rival.
Here and there, where there has been shelter from the wind and full sunlight, the hawthorn hedges have begun to burst forth. Where there is a bit of wild gooseberry in the hedge it is already green and almost in flower. There are faint touches of blackthorn here and there - as you will see from my photograph it is still a bit scrappy - but another warm week and it will be full out. Then we shall get some cold weather because we always get what is called a Blackthorn Winter up here. And if it is accompanied by a sharp frost or two then that puts paid to any hopes of sloe gin (or in my case, sloe vodka as I hate the taste of gin).
Primroses, those delicate, custard-coloured, most English of flowers, are out in the hedge bottoms and everywhere are the bolder daffodils. And, if you want an even stronger attack on the eyes - some gardens I pass have bushes of forsythia bursting over the wall.
Because the ten miles journey follows the course of the river, pairs of ducks, mallard or teal, fly across the road in front of me. They nest early and some will already be sitting, although - if you believe Beatrix Potter in Jemima Puddleduck, ducks are bad sitters. A few years ago a duck made a nest by the beckside just outside the gate of my cottage in the village. I have posted the photograph above - you can see how little she bothered about camouflage. She sat on fourteen eggs for about six weeks and then abandoned them as they were obviously unfertile. During that time noone saw a drake anywhere near so we came to the conclusion that she had not learned about the birds and the bees! Within one day of her deserting the nest all fourteen eggs had been eaten by something (magpie, crow, stoat, weasel?)
We do get a few teal or mallard ducklings on our beck in Spring, but sadly a lot of them disappear so that usually the mother duck ends up with only two or three babies. These she guards well as they swim up and down. We usually hear her warning quack as we pass, so get a glimpse of them.
Soon it will be time for the swallows to return. They usually arrive on the farm anywhere after about April 12 th, having completed that tremendous flight from Africa and returned to the nesting site where they were born. These fantastic birds use the same nests - hastily repaired - year after year. On the subject of swallows, in today's Times Simon Barnes reviews what sounds to be an excellent book about swallows - it is called "A Single Swallow", written by Horatio Clare. In it he follows the swallows from the southern tip of Africa back to his home in Wales. As Barnes says, "they are birds of transit yet they have the greatest fidelity to their ancestral breeding grounds." That sounds a book worth reading.
This week the farmer has finished the fence he was building to enclose the paddock. I must say he has made a jolly good job of it. Now all he has to do is to creosote it to match the existing fence higher up the field. He has bought a splended fourteen foot wooden gate to put on - it should look really good when it is all finished.
Enjoy your weekend, folks - and those of you in UK - make the most of it as icy winds are on their way back. All I can say is that if this last week was all the spring we are going to get, that is more than we had last year - and I have revelled in every single day, in every minute of warm sun on my back.
Finally - I couldn't resist showing you these fine lads - three Texels and two Suffolks - their job finished for another year, now enjoying the freedom of a meadow all on their own. Tess gave them a good barking at and they came to see what all the fuss was about.

29 comments:

Elizabeth said...

How I love to hear all the country details now we are back in the city.

Sal said...

I do love your posts.
I find the weather amazing at the mo. I woke to a heavy frost.. and ice on the car windscreen.
Now, this afternoon, it is like a summer's day and we're sitting in t shirts etc. I bet it gets cold again later! ;-)

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver,

How idyllic you make it all seem. And this week, mostly, it has been. We have had another beautiful day. More cold weather will NOT be welcome!

Heather said...

It has indeed been a lovely week and I have worked in the garden, as well as enjoyed a couple of meals out there and sat in the sun too when time allowed. We just need to make the most of every bit of good weather that comes our way. Lovely pictures of your part of the world again. I love the way that ducks quack and sound as if they have just heard a rather rude joke and are laughing heartily.

Mistlethrush said...

What an idyllic post - your side of the Pennines are obviously getting much better weather than us toay. All grey all day here.

HelenMHunt said...

The sheep do look like fine boys.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

I'd never thought of primroses as custard-coloured - they are! (Forsythia is also custard coloured depending on the make of custard, and how much colouring the manufacturers put in!!)
Of course, Girth makes his own - the real thing ... primrose coloured.

Lovely post, Weaver - I'm full of the joys of spring reading it!

Reader Wil said...

How nice that you have a breed of sheep which is from the Dutch Isle of Texel, where there are many sheep.I also saw cows in Australia which are from Friesland, one of our provinces. They are called Frysians.

Crafty Green Poet said...

oh lovely post, it is really Spring up here today as well and we sawe a lot of birds. I llove chaffinches too and your photo of the duck, she is a bit silly yes!

patteran said...

The fine weather here this past few days and your vividly detailed post, Pat, will have to do as evidence of spring 2009, I suspect. The long range forecasts are not very positive so memory may have to serve us ahead of summer.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Just as I like to hear your NY comments as I live in the country, elizabeth.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Sal - the vagiaries of the english weather eh! I understand there is cold to come but then March always has been capricious.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I would guess our weather is quite similar to yours Derrick.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Glad you enjoyed the pictures, Heather.
I love eating outside but as the farmer works outside all day he considers it frightful eating out there and likes to be indoors - but I take out a coffee and the Times crossword mid-morning.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Carol - I think on the whole we get more sunshine than your west side.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Helen - I think those boys have the Life of Riley!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Raph - I am missing reading your lovely giraffe stories - hope you will soon put another one on your site. Your mention of custard makes me hungry - real comfort food.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Reader wil - until we had to have our herd of cows culled because of Foot and Mouth Disease - we had a herd of Friesian cows too. There are still many about although often the Holstein has taken over as the most popular. We preferred the Friesians as they were a little more compact - Holsteins have such big bones that they look rather awkward.

Country Girl said...

Lovely to see your views! And the birdlife on your property sounds excellent. Thank you always, for your kind comments left on my blog. It's good to have friends.

The Weaver of Grass said...

c.g.p. I do think Beatrix Potter knew her ducks when she wrote Jemima.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Dick - I do hope you are completely wrong and we are in for a perfect Spring and an even more perfect summer.

Woman in a Window said...

I'm waiting for the birds to return...waiting and waiting and waiting. There's a lot of waiting and I don't have so much patience.

Leenie said...

Enjoyed the post. Loved the photos and the info on your local birds. Our weather is too cold too long for such a variety, but we enjoy those passing through and those that stay. Hope you were able to dig up the roots of those perennial grasses. We have them here and they are a pain to deal with.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I love hearing of Springtime in your part of Britain. I've always wondered what Blackthorn Winter meant. Here we have Blackberry Winter. Another name for the same thing, obviously. And you are right about "the smell of rising greenery". There's nothing else like it in the year. Such anticipation. But, I must hold off in planting. I've been blindsided by a late frost too many times!! Lovely weekend to you!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Happy mothering sunday to all the mums out there.

Mistlethrush said...

I read a chapter from A Single Swallow in the Telegraph Magazine very engaging. I've done a mini blog about it.

Mary said...

What a wonderful post! You have such a way with words; you really made me feel as though I were right there experiencing all the signs of spring. :)

Janice Thomson said...

Love reading all these signs of spring - flowers popping up, birds in fine plumage etc...sigh. Can't wait for a few sunny days here.

Barbara Martin said...

I enjoyed reading your post with the country details and especially the photo of the sheep.