Thursday, 9 February 2012

I told you so!

I was strongly of the opinion that spring was just around the corner; right up until it started snowing. My geography training tells me that, if mild Atlantic conditions prevail for weeks at a time, it's usually safe to predict that they will continue to keep out any of that nasty, cold European air. To re-enforce my view, our neighbours in Holland and Belgium were having the same weather as us, so we seemed pretty safe. Of course my cynical colleagues and our regular volunteers kept telling me "We'll pay for this later" and they were right; we are paying for it now.

On Sunday morning the Friends had planned to run a volunteer work party at Pumphouse Pit, but it ws cancelled because of the weather. Our hardy Voluntary Wardens braved the conditions to open up the Visitors' Centre and they had a quite a busy day. Visitors had good views of the birds that remained on the frozen lakes and a bittern was seen on Rudd Pit.

On Monday I dug my 30 year-old Nordic skis out of the garage and made my patrol around the Heron Trail. I was pleasantly surprised to meet another skier coming the other way, also wearing 30 year old skis. He learned to ski in Norway while posted there with the Army in his youth. I only get to use mine about once a year, but just being on them brings back memories of Scotland, Austria and Yellowstone Park.

The harsh conditions had brought fieldfares to the reserve and to people's gardens and I saw my first goldcrest for this year at Rory's Wood.

Back at the wildlife garden, our new pond has frozen over, but I hope the newly laid turf has survived. We covered it up against the frost and then the snow probably protected it, but I hear there's more weather on the way. In fact, it's snowing now. It must be pretty tough on the birds and mammals.