Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Closing in again.

After two or three days when the temperature has been above freezing and the snow has almost all gone, apart from in the shelter of walls and in the deep gullies, more snow is forecast. Arctic winds are set to sweep down from the North, gathering moisture as they come over the sea and dropping it as snow in the North of the UK, gradually coming down until it covers the whole country.

We have plenty of oil for our central heating and the Aga, we have plenty of logs for our wood-burning stove and the freezer is well-stocked, so we have little to worry about.

Not so the wild life. Do they know severe weather is on the way again? We shall never know but the farmer often forecasts the weather from the behaviour of the sheep and various old country lores suggest the animals and birds have more sense than we credit them with.

Last week in the severe weather they suffered. A neighbouring farmer found a barn owl dead in his barn, dead and almost skeletal, suggesting it had starved to death - such a tragedy as barn owls have just begun to recover around here. Our resident little owl survived mainly because of a road-kill rabbit near to where it lives in a hollow tree and many of the wild birds survived because we feed them every day.

This morning there was a dead sheep in the pasture, dead and - again - skeletal. Each day the farmer puts out silage, hay and sheep nuts - but not all the sheep will eat this - they prefer grass, and short of stuffing the hay into its mouth than what can we do to help a sheep survive?

Our resident rabbits have made their warrens in the hedge bottoms. They know a thing or two; the hedge bottom is usually the last place to get deep snow and if the warren is built on the "sunny side" then any watery sun that comes out will warm their warren a little.

Today the sky has taken on a cold look, almost navy blue in places, and the sun has never really mamaged to shine. All our old hawthorn trees, gnarled with age, have been stripped bare of their berries; most of the berries have gone from the cotoneaster and the pyracantha and the remaining crab apples are going bad on the trees.

So we have another wild life crisis looming for tomorrow and we must put out all we can in order to keep as many animals and birds alive as we can. Last week we bought a bag of dried meal worms - they are disappearing like magic!


Unknown said...

Fingers crossed, Weaver! I hope the snow isn't as bad as the last lot but we shall soon find out. Keep warm and dry. shall think of you by the stove!

DeniseinVA said...

I do hope it won't be as bad as last time for you all. I don't live out in the country but I'm keeping my bird feeders full.

Gwil W said...

Have just hung out a feeder of sunflower seeds for the finches. Earlier I tried a hanging a seedball for them but a crow took it. Good luck to your critters.

ps- thnx for kind words re poems :) youve made me day!

MorningAJ said...

It's so sad to think of birds and animals starving to death. We have three cats and Maisie is a little monster so I daren't put out food in the garden. There's a space on my kitchen roof where I think the birds would be able to see her approaching and I put things up there when I can - but I have to throw them - and that limits what I can use. I do my best - but nothing I do would help a barn owl, unfortunately.

Jinksy said...

You sound as though you are prepared for seige conditions. Full marks for your caring attitiude to wild life - I hope the Snow Queen is as kind to you and yours!

angryparsnip said...

So very sad, I love owls and the fact he starved to death is so heartbreaking. I understand it is nature in my brain but my heart feels otherwise.
Will you feed your little tree owl ? when it gets that cold it must be hard for him.
Hope today stays warm.

cheers, parsnip

Heather said...

How sad that the barn owls are starving, and probably other species too. My husband puts meal worms out regularly - the birds love them, don't they? You would think that the sheep would eat what you put out for them if they were hungry, even if they did prefer fresh grass. If it's like this before Christmas it makes me wonder what might be in store for us in the New Year. Glad you are well stocked up.

Tess Kincaid said...

Ours hasn't melted, and looks like it will be a white Christmas at the manor. Stay safe and warm, my friend.

George said...

It seems to be frigid everywhere, Pat, no higher than 27 degrees F here in Maryland, and Grizz woke up to 4 degrees this morning in Ohio. Even Florida is under a freeze, which is threatening our citrus crops, among other things. You are a good steward to be providing food the wildlife during these challenging periods. Just remember, this too shall pass and the red buds of spring will be soon upon us. Merry Christmas.

Tom Stephenson said...

After stopping doing so about a year ago, I have begun throwing kitchen scraps out of our town window again for the sake of the gulls, feral pigeons, crows and wag-tails. I will moan about the bloody gulls again next spring, and I will pretend to look forward to the demise of the feral pigeons again next summer due to the coming winter cold, but I cannot bear to throw away good food whilst watching creatures die for the lack of it outside, whilst I am cozy indoors.

ChrisJ said...

So sad about the wild creatures starving in the cold. We had a Santa Ana over the weekend, when the winds blow from the desert. Consequently our temperatures were in the upper 80's. But then yesterday the winds changed and our temps dropped by 30 degrees. That's still warm compared to you, but for us, -- we complain-- mainly because we don't own warm jackets and boots, never mind scarves and gloves. And most of our houses don't have insulation. Also being on the coast we get DAMP cold. But our birds come like clockwork at 2:30 pm each day for the seed I put out. Good for you and all who do the best they can for the animals in the cold weather. We have rain coming this weekend. About a 1/2 inch. Which doesn't seem like much but our average rainfall is 10 inches a year. Going to seethe cats this afternoon. Keep warm!

Granny Sue said...

Our weather seems to be mirroring yours lately, except that you get a lot more of it. Stay cozy!

Golden West said...

I do think the animals sense more than we realize. Here in southern California, dogs act strangely just before an earthquake and we can tell rain is coming when the seagulls fly in broad circles.

You are so right about overwatering cyclamen, Weaver. I always transfer mine from their plastic pots into clay, which dry out more quickly and evenly. I don't think cyclamen like having their "feet" wet!

Stay warm and safe there!

Lucy Corrander : Photos said...

The weather is at last worth talking about - though tough for creatures and those who look after them.

Glad you are up and about and blogging again. Hope all goes well from now on.

Thank you for following Pictures Just Pictures.

I’ve now used all the allotted space for photos there and have started a new blog so I can carry on. It’s called

Message in a Milk Bottle

I’ve given it a different look but its purpose is unchanged - a photo a day.


Crafty Green Poet said...

wildlife always does suffer in this type of weather, trust the bunnies to be wise and prepared though!

We had a flurry of snow in the mist this morning, but that cleared up... Freezing cold though

Caroline Gill said...

... and now the snow has reached the depths of South Wales, too.

Dave King said...

Full of interest and beautifully illustrated as always.

annell4 said...

I do appreciate your worry. And you remind others, too. Yes, sometimes they need our help. Thanks to you.