Saturday, 9 March 2013

Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year

The frogs in my garden pond have been busy this last few days and nights producing copious quantities of spawn, a cluster of the frogs can be seen immediately above the spawn. Hopefully the arctic blast that is forecast for the coming week won't kill off too much of the spawn and I'll be able to put a good number of the eventual tadpoles aside in a large bin, to safely grow on to adult hood away from the attentions of the pond's goldfish. If only the local herons would visit the pond more frequently I might be able to get the goldfish regularly culled, they swarm like piranhas around the newly hatched tadpoles each Spring.

A brief visit to the reserve this morning proved to be a fairly depressing experience after yesterday's 14 hrs of almost non-stop rain. Water levels had returned to those of 5-6 weeks ago, we were back to square one, so to speak. A cold mistiness as well all added to a general air of intense dampness and wet that was so much at odds with how the reserve had progressed to by Tuesday just gone. After a couple of weeks of drying and fairly mild weather, we ended up on Tuesday with a day of warm sunshine that had Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies fluttering around the barn doors and Lapwings carrying out courtship displays, it all looked like Spring was apon us. This morning I splashed my way through the surface water lying across the grazing meadows and checked on a couple of newly created Lapwing nest scrapes that I'd found earlier this week. They were sitting in an inch of rain water but luckily no eggs have been laid yet. Likewise a Coot's nest in the barn ditch that was half built yesterday but today was completely under water, the ditch's water level had risen a good foot, or more, overnight. Clearly one warm day doesn't make a Spring, anymore than one Swallow makes a summer but this year Spring is still looking like a forlorn dream at the moment, we could wake up one day and find ourselves in summer, having missed it all together.
It wasn't just the reserve either, the farmland all round it was just as water-logged. Over the last fortnight, as it dried out, tractors had finally been able to get on it and carry out some harrowing operations prior to putting in crops that they weren't able to in the wet autumn. Judging by the water-logging visible this morning this will now be set back several more weeks and its looking pretty much like a write-off year this year for some crops. Livestock operations will also be hampered on the marsh grazing fields unless they dry out and begin re-growing fairly quickly, cattle and their new born calves, currently held in winter stock pens, will have to be held there longer in order to avoid damaging the water-logged fields.

Wheatears were seen in Sussex and Devon earlier this week, but as the song goes, "Spring will be a little late this year" -  hopefully they won't regret being the first summer visitors to get here.

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