Rural Reading: After the big thaw comes wet walksBy Arian Lawson
January 23, 2010
For a few glorious days spring appeared. As if by magic the snow melted and I felt released from some strange dream. Did it really happen? Was the snow really a foot deep outside my house?
The sun was shining, the sky was blue, birds were singing, I even found some violets blooming beneath the juniper in my front garden.
I walked confidently to the lane at the end of my road, no fear of slipping, no trudging through fresh snow. But once off the road there lay compacted frozen snow, in the permanent shadow of the railway embankment. I followed this for 400 yards or so, and turned left. The path was in the sun and ice and snow free, but a few yards further I was in for another shock – the path was under water.
The Holy Brook had burst its banks and had poured into the adjacent fields, which were now three feet deep. The meadows were now full of ducks and swans, and two little egrets too.
The path wasn’t slippery but it was deep and I only just made it across without getting a bootful of water. It felt warmer than it has done for a long time and the great tits were singing. Down by the river I noticed the alders had flocks of birds feeding on the seeds, which at this time of year are abundant. There were flocks of goldfinches and siskins accompanied by long tailed, great and blue tits.
Such flocks are always worth watching, as all sorts of other birds will join in the feasting, sometimes just for the company. Sure enough a pair of tree creepers were among the flocks, the first I have seen this year. I watched them for a while, the antics of these agile little birds are so entertaining.
I noticed some quite large branches had fallen from the trees under the weight of snow, leaving quite large wounds in the trunks. These looked like bad news but, actually, woodpeckers will soon be carving holes in these trees for their nests – when spring does eventually get here.