Monday, November 29, 2010

Certainly not weather for wimps!

With 26cm. of snow just down the road, plummeting temperatures destined to reach -12C tonight , this is certainly not weather for wimps! This is real winter stuff and I confess it will be a relief to get back to the wet and windy options on Islay, where I suspect, "it's cold today, isn't it", equates to what people say in Aberdeen in July!!I think that part of Scotland is suffering most of all at the moment.

The birds are having a hard time of it with every day-lit hour being made use of. Tracks in the garden showed Brown Hare, Rabbit and Red Fox had been through the area under the cover of darkness. Despite the low temperatures of the past few days it was surprising how mild it felt within the confines of the large poly tunnel, although all things are relative and the effects of a cutting easterly wind had been eliminated. I suspect this is how many birds and animals cope overnight, seeking out some sheltered position and minimising outside effects. Alternatively, I can't think of anywhere worse than a wind swept estuary or open loch on which to spend the night time hours!! Some birds, like Wrens, can even form communal roosts in places like nest boxes which, if you're at the bottom of the pile must be pretty cosy, albeit a bit claustrophobic!! Some years ago I can remember walking along a disused railway cutting, after the winter and somewhere close to Crianlarich, and finding many carcases of Redwing within and below large Hawthorn bushes in which they had roosted, but, presumably then , perished ,perhaps because of extreme and freak conditions. A couple of years ago too, when I was out in Poland in the Bialowieza Forest,I was fascinated to learn from one of the senior researchers how , sometimes, Black Woodpeckers will seek shelter in hollow trees which had fallen and were present on the forest floor. Intriguingly this whole area of bird roosting sites and strategies is something about which little popular material appears to be available, although there are obvious major constraints connected with its study!

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