Wednesday 23 December 2009

Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone

Winter Wonderland

The countryside around, like the rest of Ireland, is a winter wonderland, dusted with a light snowfall two days ago and frosted hard ever since, with hoar-frost glistening on every twig the pale morning light has not reached.
Frosted pink Hebe

It is very beautiful, but dangerously slippy on roads like ours that have not been salted. Susanna and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary two days ago and booked ourselves for a dinner at the Whiskey Still in the village. But when we came to drive there, the car's wheels spun on the compacted ice just outside our drive entrance and we slipped back. Eventually, I let the car slide into the rough margin of the road where rough grit gave enough traction to breast the hill. And we enjoyed an excellent dinner, reminiscing about our Florida wedding and Sarasota honeymoon, spent in shorts sunbathing by the side of a pool, observed by a green-masked heron!

It is a hard time for the birds, which Susanna is assiduously providing with food and fresh water. The familiar common birds visit the birdtable and hanging feeders in a constant stream, including Chaffinches, Greenfinches, occasional Goldfinches, Sparrows, Dunnocks, Robins, Great Tits, Blue Tits, Coal Tit's, a single hen Blackcap Warbler and a juvenile cock Blackbird. I can see them through the bedroom window, and observe their pecking order. The Blackbird rules the roost and the others stay away when he is feeding. Next in order are the Greenfinches, but they tolerate others feeding beside them so long as they are not too close. Then comes the Blackcap hen, who is faced off by Greenfinches, but agressively chases away all the smaller birds, like a garden fascist as I previously described it. The Tits and Chaffinches just muck in together.

Elsewhere in the garden, blackbirds maintain their territories despite the weather. I have just seen a Pied Wagtail exploring the gutter for insects outside my upstairs study window. Yesterday there was a Robin on the ground outside the greenhouse which was unable to fly, and later I found it dead and threw its little body into the hedge, where no doubt it will provide a meal for some other creature.

1 comment:

Daniel Owen said...

Your garden looks wonderful. Happy Christmas to you and yours.