Twelth Night has passed, and Christmas decorations are down. It is time to get outside and do those winter jobs that I thought up in summer, but always forget to take into account the outside temperature and the possibility of rain. Fiery red skies at night have been a feature of this winter. I am not sure if they have proved to be a shepherd's delight, as the saying goes, but they have certainly delighted me. Recently, though, they are in "Red skies in the morning, shepherd's warning " mode, and not without reason. High wind and heavy rain has followed; a tree came down, obstructing the street through the village. Fortunately it happened at night, causing neither injury nor damage. It was, however, a timely reminder that, if the area on which a tree falls is used by the public, any damage caused is the liability of the owner of the land on which the tree is growing. This makes an annual inspection a wise decision.
The sheep have left us, having grazed their plot to an acceptable level. There were two , casualties, attributable in all probability to an out- of-control dog, but no means of identifying the culprit. It is fortunate that the toll was not higher.
The tawny owl has started to call again although the breeding season is not normally before March. It lives in a beech tree, quite close to the farmhouse, and startles me when I go to shut the henhouse at night; a necessary precaution against foxes. The robin also thinks that spring is not far away; they are one of the earliest in the year to start up again and also sing quite late into the evening. At this time of year the birds are clearly grateful for the food I put out. They have peanuts, suet balls, niger seed and mixed seed and the feeders are filled every day. The feed comes from a farmer near Spalding who grows much of the seed himself. He keeps extensive records of the weather, the birds on his farm and also supplies feeding equipment and nest boxes - a useful contact to have.
On a final note, as this is mainly about birds; a huge flight of geese went over last evening, in the echelon formation characteristic of the greylag goose. The sound they make as they fly and their slow, strong wingbeats, make them readily identifiable.
The last word.
"Whether the weather be cold, or whether the weather be hot,
We'll weather the weather whatever the weather
Whether we like it or not"