Saturday, 30 January 2010

are you coming for a walk with us?






















It is so long since we went for a "proper" walk - this is the first weekend when there has not been snow and ice around. So, come on - wrap up well, coat, wellies, scarf, gloves, woolly hat - the lot because there is a keen North wind blowing straight down from the Arctic.
We'll go down the farm yard and into the pasture - let's get the worst bit over first as that faces due North and yes the wind is jolly cold. Looking up the hillside I must say it looks very wintry in spite of the sunshine. There is not a sign of Spring anywhere. The ground is rock hard and bumpy so it is not even easy walking. Although Tess has her eyes and ears open, there is no sign of a rabbit anywhere.
Soon we are down to the beck. It is still quite full of water and fairly fast-flowing. The banks are brown and dead and as we approach a grey heron takes off lazily, tucks his feet in neatly behind him and lands in the next field. He knows we are no threat.
In the wood there is barely a sign of Spring. Here and there green snowdrop blades push through and several clumps of blue bells are beginning to come up, but they are slow to move. It is sheltered here from the North and there is already a little bit of power in the sun.
Along the beck side the farmer has piled up Nature's winter prunings ready to collect them for a bonfire. The twiggy bits are not thick enough to burn on the wood-burning stove but they will make a jolly old bonfire for a chilly day.
As we set off up the pasture I look back and am pleased to see that the line of alder trees along the beck side are showing red, which means their catkins are beginning to form - always a pleasing sign. In the nearby field I can hear the guns. Tomorrow is the last day of the pheasant shooting season and our two shooting syndicates have joined forces to shoot at both sites. I went this morning to have coffee and cake with Dominic and as I went down the lane past his house I met the shooters changing sites - twenty or so four-track vehicles full of grown men with boys toys - guns. How can they shoot the pheasants, already in their breeding plumage and looking so majestic in the sunlight. The answer is - they can - they all have bubbles of roast pheasant in red wine coming out of the top of their heads. I am pleased to say that although the farmer goes along for the ride, he does not shoot. I waited for all the vehicles to pass and thought how glad I was not to be a pheasant.
By now Tess and I are beginning to tire - it is hard work walking on this uneven rocky surface. We can see the farmhouse in the distance and quicken our pace. I decide to go in through the walled front garden and - joy of joys - a winter aconite has pushed through the mulch of pine needles and has a fat yellow bud. There is a sign of Spring after all.
Back at the bird table three cock pheasant are pecking lazily at the food on the ground - they saunter away and stand under a bush as we pass, ready to resume feeding when we have gone inside. They are such exotic birds in their chestnut coats and green hats.
I had seen evidence that a sparrow hawk had been plucking and eating what looked like a collared dove down by the beck - well they've got to eat and there would be more of a meal in a dove than a blue tit.
Speaking of blue tits, it is Big Garden Bird Watch weekend, so for one hour either today or tomorrow I shall watch the bird table and count the highest number of each species which I see at once. This morning there were sixteen blackbirds - hope they come back in the morning for my survey. One of them has a white wing feather, a white splash on its back and a white streak above its bill. I am surprised it has lived this long as it really stands out in a crowd.
Come back in, take your coat and wellies off and come and sit by the wood burner - I'll make you a cup of tea and you can have a scone. It was nice to have your company on my walk - do come again.

34 comments:

Poet in Residence said...

I can't believe such a sudden change in the weather. The old farm seems positively vibrant. Lovely pictures - splash of yellow to cheer me up, blue sky too. I guess, it's time for a cuppa. Do you know I haven't got any biscuits...

steven said...

hello weaver - i am surprised to see the fields and trees free of snow!! the arctic air mass you mention is pushing down where i live. twenty eight below this morning. still, the sun is shining and as in your photos, it makes a world of difference to the spirit! steven

Dianne said...

Wonderful. I feel right at home. I will post more local pics with my poems in the future. I, too, will be walking today after a long drenching and rare rain in drought-plagued California.
See ya later, gotta get my "Wellies" before I get my knickers in a twist and start cleaning the house!
Dianne

Titus said...

Thank you Weaver, that was a rather lovely virtual walk. We have been bike-riding through the forest at Drumlanrig, and sadly, no signs of Spring there yet. Perhaps we were moving a little too fast to see them!
I could do with that cup of tea though! And a scone, did you say?

Bovey Belle said...

Hah - we have the perishing wind today, and a return to the snow! Not very much, but enough to make our steep twisty hill dodgy to try and drive back up. I bet you were pleased to see your Winter Aconite about to flower.

Hildred and Charles said...

Weaver, you are so lucky to have pheasants in such abundance. At one time, when we were young, they were plentiful around the farm, but now they have retreated to the bottom of the valley and along the river where the population is thinner and the supply of food and cover is fatter. I miss them, and am delighted when I occasionally catch sight of one.

It does make one wonder how men could possibly shoot such lovely looking birds, - or any small bird, unless they are desperate for meat.
sigh.....

Leenie said...

Enjoyed the walk. Glad your pheasants survived the hunt. I seldom see them where I live but there were so many where I grew up that they were a problem in the wheat fields. Fun walk, although a bit windy.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Enjoyed the walk, Weaver. It is certainly more spring-like there than here. Today the temperature at almost noon is 15˚F (would that be about 9˚C?) and the river is river is looking green and slushy, like a big margarita. Lots of birds at the feeder, including your favorite cardinals.

Lovely post.…

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver,

Certainly was freezing this morning; just half a degree C when I came to work. But the blue sky and sunshine does make a difference. Nice walk!

willow said...

Yes, I'm coming! Wait for me!

I can see that lovely spring is on its way in your neck of the woods. Still snow cover and extra cold temps here.

Heather said...

I wondered if you would have more snow by now Weaver - we had another light fall on Thursday evening. What a lovely sight that aconite is. I planted some a few years back but they don't like our clay soil. In spite of the low temperatures our snowdrops are very gradually showing tiny white bits. We have a 'stripey' blackbird too - it's odd how they appear some years. Your pictures are beautiful even if they are wintry - such lovely unspoiled countryside. I took Poppy for a walk this afternoon but it was cut short as she is scared by gun shots - one 'pop' and she heads for home.

Granny Sue said...

I'd be delighted to walk with you! Here, spring is a long way off--4" of new snow today and it's still falling. Temps around 20 don't invite too many people out.

Mark Kreider said...

Always nice taking a walk and chatting with you. Only wish I could give Tess a pat or two. I like to read your posts aloud to my wife who enjoys them so We have snowdrops and winter aconite in our side yard beneath a very large blue atlas tree but the haven't emerged yet. They normally show up for my birthday in two weeks.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

It was a wonderful walk. From here it felt like Spring! And I won't say no to a scone.

DJ said...

Ahhhhhh...I would certainly brave the cold uneven ground and the arctic wind for tea & scones with you, my friend...

Elizabeth said...

A wonderful bracing winter walk.
Buster and I would have loved it.
Thank you for taking us along.

Totalfeckineejit said...

Love your walks Weaver, speciallyas I sit down for them.Sure looks more springlike even if it may not feel like it.Very cold here but snowdrops are virtually out.

Penny said...

I am so glad you are back walking and I thoroughly enjoyed coming with you. That scone was delicious.

Reader Wil said...

Well that was a lovely walk! I am glad you invited us. We have a lot of snow now. I hung food for the birds in the bushes in front of the house. There are many great tits here, and blue tits, the odd jay, but no pheasants.

Pondside said...

What a lovely walk. I particularly like to go out on the sort of winter day in which the sun shines on the winter weary and snow-flattened landscape. There's something about the sight that heightens my anticipation of spring.

ChrisJ said...

I certainly enjoyed our walk! You describe it so well. How nice to get a closeup look at pheasants. As for the tea and scone...mmm! -- especially if there was cream. I look forward to the next walk.

Golden West said...

That was grand - the scenery and the company both!

Cathy said...

I want to take a walk! We have 7 inches of snow here and it's freezing.

BT said...

Well I really enjoyed that lovely walk weaver, especially seeing the brook and that lovely aconite all ready to burst into flower. I heard shooting in the woods tonight. It was so loud, it echoed all around. Pass the strawberry jam, would you?

Helsie said...

Thanks for taking me with you on your walk. The countryside where you live is so pretty and it is a real treat to share your winter weather with you.
Having definite seasons like you do must be so nice especially when you have a lovely Spring to look forward to with daffodils and bluebells not too far away now.
cheers
Helen

Elisabeth said...

Strange that this walk was so cold. Through the window of your camera lens it looks quite warm really.

Ah me, we'll have to wait a bit longer for spring. Thanks, Weaver fr the invitation.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Poet - you turned down that plate of cakes so don't you jolly well spoil your figure with a biscuit.
Yes steven - as long as the sun is out then it does make a world of difference.
Diane - I hope you enjoyed your walk in the rain.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Titus I remember walking in Drumlanrig when we visited D and G some years agao - lovely countryside.
BB Hope the snow has gone - it is beautifulw eather here although bitterly cold.
Hildred - unfortunately pheasants are bred in their hundreds round here just to satisfy corporate shooting parties - so the birds are semi tame. Luckily as the season progresses they get cleverer at avoiding the guns.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Leenie - glad you enjoyed the virtual walk.
Scribe - oh how I would love a cardinal on my bird table. I have a little pot one I bought in US, which lives in my kitchen - I look at him often.
Derrick - I think we havequite similar weather to you.
Willow - of course we will wait for your - we oculdn't possibly go without you.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Heather - interesting about these blackbirds with bits of white. Also re your dog not liking guns, I have a friend with a collie who is terrified of guns.
Sue - glad you came on the walk.
Mark - I looked every day for my aconites and couldn't see a sign, and then one day they were out - they kind of sneak up on you - so do hope they will be out for your birthday.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Pamela and DJ - enjoy the scones.

Elizabeth - would love to meet Buster.

TFE when you say that the snowdrops are virtually out do you mean nearly out or are they virtual snowdrops?

Reader Wil and Penny - glad you enjoyed the scones.

Pondside - think we are all programmed to love the sun.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Glad the rest of you came along on the walk. I am so busy baking more scones that I have run out of answering time!! Thanks for visiting. Keep warm (or cool if you live in a hot place)

PurestGreen said...

Green! Beautiful green! I am already yearning for spring, so appreciate any mention of a hint of that precious season. And I would love a scone - thank you!

kameleonquilt said...

How lovely to see the signs of spring in your place, - I though the photos looked very much like spring itself.
Here we got a half metre of snow over the weekend.
Still, spring will come in time :-)
Eldrid