I have been struggling to get up and out of bed each morning for a few days. Today I made the effort because I was excited by the snowfall. Would I find some virgin snow to walk in, to leave my footprints in first. Yes, pathetic isn’t it? But it got me out of bed and got my day started.
Sun rise was 07:58 hrs and I was out the door by 08:04 hrs. I wasn’t the first to lay down footprints anywhere unless I diverted from the main footpath, or walked between the tracks of the postman’s van, who was already out and about.
One thing that was immediately noticeable was that the early risers, or most of them, were a really cheery bunch. It was rare not to get a greeting from dog-walkers, runners, even cyclists and fellow pedestrians. This in itself was a good reason to be out. I really felt that I liked these people.
Now, all this good humour may have been the result of the snowfall, or because these were Saturday morning people determined to make the most of every minute of the weekend after a week of more dutiful pursuits. Are the early morning exercising people similarly cheery on weekdays, or Sunday, or in other weather conditions?
I saw several wrens this morning. One disappeared into the roots of a rotten tree stump. I waited for a bit for it to reappear, thinking it was hunting for grubs, but I soon realised that the wren wasn’t coming out for a while, so maybe it has a nest deep in the warm core of that old tree.
I heard a buzzard calling on patrol, despite the constant drone of the dual carriageway behind the woods. I watched a kestrel silently drift across a rutted field. Two crows boring their beaks deep into the snow were disturbed by my stopping to watch them, but they flapped off and disappeared after banking behind the large oak tree in the middle of the field. There were several robins, confident to be near the path. Two chaffinches seemed rosier in colour than normal due to the snowy conditions. I thought one might be a bullfinch, but its white bars on the wings deflated my excitement at this possibility. It has been a while since I have seen a bullfinch.
On the Yarr were short lines of geese, random swans and on the margins of the broad a large collection of tufted ducks. Unlike the gulls, these ducks did not trust the ice sheet that covered much of the eastern end of the water. About eight gulls stood stock still, beaks to the wind, right in the centre of the broad.
The tufted ducks, the swans and even two egrets added to the sense that the world had been reduced to monochrome. The white panels of the tufted ducks seemed to be an even more dramatic contrast to the black of the rest of their plumage in the snow. The egrets were stalking the ditches on the margin of the broad and lifted off amongst the trees, flying through the snow like the spirits of the dead that some used to believe they represented. A large heron flew by close to the bank of the broad. A string of cormorants emerged from their roosts on a small island and made a mess of landing on the water, as they tried to readjust their flightpaths on realising most of the surface was iced on approach.
I got back home just after ten o’clock glad that I had been out before the day warmed up and the snow turned from crunch to slush.
It was a day off Lockdown 3 news. Just a day off all that.