Sunday, April 06, 2008

April. Really?

April eh? Naff off. I don't appreciate waking up to this.

But of course it meant that birding went on hold for half an hour, as it was perfect snow for doing this:

An anatomically accurate snow-woman. A thing of beauty. I actually wanted to build it on top of the car, but feared the wrath of any sensible people in the house. Then as I was getting kitted up to go out birdspotting I got an email from southern Spain. A Reader writes:

"Dear Martin, please will you pass this message on... this is FAO all the alpha-male pioneer first wave migrants that laughed, yes laughed, at us dorky geek-boy 1st summers, unwell, poor quality and frankly scared Northern Wheatears, Barn Swallows, Pied Flycatchers etc. who stayed behind in North Africa while you piled on northwards . We advised prudence and noted there was a good chance of more cold weather further north, but you put on your Homer Simpson voice and laughed and made fun of us and called us chickens and little girls and did a little dance and used baby voices at us as you crossed into France. Well who's laughing now, eh, Jock-boys, eh?? Think about this while you're dying of cold and hunger in a snow covered gorse bush on the wind-blasted bit of territory you risked everything to get to. Well, we're coming now, and we're going to occupy 'your' vacant territory and fertilise 'your' mate and defecate on your sorry little corpse [Editorial comment - hold on there... that's a bit strong. Remember there might be children and Birdwatching magazine readers online]. 'Survival of the fittest' our big feathery cloacas! Die! Die! Die by the truckload!!!
We remain, yours etc. assorted migrant passerines.
P.S. we saw your little sisters today and they are all looking hot!"

To be honest, I was a bit disturbed by the tone of the message, feeling frankly that that sort of petty attitude is what leads to bad feeling and disrespect, but promised to pass the message on to any advanced migrants I saw. I left the house as another snowman was being started across the road.

As you can imagine, most of the birds around here were under a bit of stress, and apart from around the bird feeders, the open countryside was a bit quiet. Plenty of Meadow Pipits though. Normally I might see a couple on a walk round Cran Hill, but today there were 15 in the field at St Ann's, 11 in cow field, another 9 at the white houses, 5 along the clifftops, 1 picking over the remains of Mount Doom, and a few more round Cran Hill. Probably short distance movement from local high ground - the snow was melting fast and I imagined they'd be back inland pretty soon. Couple of Mallards on the sea were taking refuge from the meltwater burn , and there were 3 Ruddy Turnstones and 1 Common Redshank on the beach, but all my Herring Gulls were flying away inland (with no Iceland Gulls, which is becoming a bit of a gap on my patch list). Offshore, given the strong northerly wind the sea was disappointly quiet - a passage of Black-legged Kittiwakes north, but very few auks and the breeding cliffs were empty. 1 European Shag in the bay, and an Atlantic Grey Seal. In fact it was all very boring really, although as the snow melted the Yellowhammers and Common Chaffinches started to appear in the sunshine, and a Great Black-backed Gull eating a sheep carcasse was positively mediaeval.

By the time I got home, the snow was going going gone, except for mine and Sandy's snowmen staring naughtily at each other across the road.
Shortly after this photo was taken the head fell off mine. Such is the life of a snow-person. Melting away during their last moments of consciousness in a mad frenzy of lust and fear, probably.

I hope this is a lesson to all that beauty is transient.

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