Monday, 9 February 2015

A Burning Issue.

Today it really does feel like early Spring (a dangerous feeling this early in February).   There is a light, cool breeze but there is wall-to-wall sunshine and the chaffinches are singing loudly as Tess and I walk down the Lane and round one of the hay meadows.

On the horizon there are plumes of greyish/white smoke both to the North and to the East.   That means only one thing in February - they are burning the heather.   On the grouse moors it is permissible to burn the heather back between January and March.   Of course when it can be done depends entirely upon the weather and the last few days have been perfect - most of the snow has gone and the sun and the light breeze together have dried the heather nicely.

The heather is burned on a rotational basis, patches at a time over so many years, so that all the heather crop is kept young and healthy and none of it is allowed to become long and straggly and quite unsuitable for the grouse.

Once March arrives and the grouse start laying and breeding then all the burning must stop for the rest of the year.   It is burnt in quite small squares so that it is unusual for the gamekeeper and his team to lose control of the burn (it has been known, but only rarely).
So that is another nail in the coffin of Winter and another sign that Spring and grouse-breeding is on its way.   Hope my aconites on my header endorse this view for you.

17 comments:

MorningAJ said...

I can remember years ago on the Whitby moors they lost control of the fire and the underlying peat caught light. It was months before it was out properly. It always worries me when I see it happening now.

Frances said...

Your beautiful header does indeed give me hope of spring growing nearer. I type this even though we have a fresh supply of icy sidewalks this morning in New York.

(I do have a pot of what will become pink hyacinth blooms on my window sill to cheer me up!)

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello,

There are so many aspects to effective land management that we townies are often unaware of.

When we lived deep in the Herefordshire countryside, one was so much more intimately connected with the land, the seasons, the weather and Nature in general. One loses many of these sensitivities living in a city.

Your Aconites are a charming reminder of times when we would go in search of sheets of them covering the ground.

donna baker said...

The cattle ranchers burn off hundreds of acres (probably thousands) around my area. It is upsetting to me for all the creatures that are hibernating still. Turtles, salamanders and many more creatures are literally burned alive. I have seen them. Then they mow the fields for hay and destroy the quail and other ground nesting species' nests. I think we should all become vegetarians or there has to be some solution.

Gerry Snape said...

Super profile pic Pat....

Gwil W said...

I see on the weather chart there is a big high pressure to the west of Ireland. Your weather should remain settled. Here, in contrast, I've been out with the snow shovel 3 times, I've seen two people fall and a car left abandoned in a snowdrift on our hill with its hazard lights still blinking. I even saw a man with icicles hanging from his beard.

Em Parkinson said...

Incredibly warm here too Pat; I even saw a Tortoiseshell butterfly out there on the moor. However, in the shadows, it was still zero degrees!

I em,ailed you about Tess but I'm not sure it was actually your address. Did you get it????

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

Aconites are such a cheerful sign of spring. But they are one we will not see here for quite some time....No heather either, though perhaps some grouse, rarely.

Rachel said...

We used to be able to burn the stubbles off at the end of harvest but it has been banned now for many years. It was a good way to clear the land and re-balance the good and the bad and re-generate the land. Nothing suffered. Now the rebalance has to be done with insecticides and sprays so whoever made the decision for the good of nature shot himself and nature in the foot.

Rachel said...

208

Rachel said...

208 was to prove I am not a robot. What I said was this: we used to burn off the stubble at the end of harvest. It used to rebalance nature. Now for 20 years we haven't been allowed to so the rebalance is achieved with insecticides and sprays. Whoever made the decision shot himself and nature in the foot and who go blamed? Guess.

Heather said...

Your aconites are a joy and each tiny sign of spring is another treat, even if winter hasn't quite done with us. It is good to know that the farmers are careful to time the burning of heather so carefully.
I'm still waiting for my snowdrops to come out.

Joanne Noragon said...

I know spring must come because the sky is lighter from week to week when I get up early to drive my granddaughter to week. However, we had an ice storm overnight, on top of all the snow, and I did not get out of the car to take pictures.

Leilani Lee said...

Of course the farmers here don't burn heather but this is the "fire season." I have a police scanner and on weekends, especially, half the county seems to be on fire, with farmers having started fires to burn leaves or clear brush and they out of control. We had some lovely Spring weather for a couple of days and the bulbs think it is time to bloom. Unfortunately, they are wrong.

Jennifer said...

The aconites in your header are beautiful!

We had a warm, spring-ish day here yesterday. The birds were singing and some trees have the tiny beginnings of buds, and I could have sworn I smelled daffodils while walking around my neighborhood. I didn't see any,though.

I'm so very anxious for spring! It's my favorite season!

Cro Magnon said...

I love it that every region/country has it's own traditions. These annual markers are what makes somewhere special.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks for these replies. I am amazed that we have snowdrops which have almost died back after flowering for weeks and the aconites have been out for a fortnight - yet folk further South have not seen either yet. No accounting for it is there?