Three days we spent hunkered down, man and beast alike, from the seemingly endless chain of storms that came rolling in off the Atlantic. Day and night the wind relentlessly howled its Banshee scream; bending the leafless trees back and forth, making their timber groan under the strain of remaining upright. Rain, sheets of torrential rain, fell horizontally onto the sodden ground; it lashed the window, blurring the view of the green hillside and garden outside.
The Sheep huddled along the hedgerows for protection; the humble Woodpigeon stayed in its Ivy roost.
For three whole days, our garden friends did not show; Like a boxer on the ropes, they shielded from the storms lashing blows amongst the leafless shrubs and waited for the storm to run out of steam. And sure enough, it did.
Ravens take to the sky, throwing out their rough, deep croaks as they fly wing tip to wing tip like ice skaters dancing, touching fingertips as they glide across the ice. Common Buzzard’s showboat effortlessly on an updraught, stretching and parting every primary, and fanning their geisha tails. When high enough the display is turned up a notch, wings are folded back and the bird hurtles like a bullet towards the ground at breathtaking speed then easing off to climb again and rejoin its mate. The displays are briefly broken off to mob the Red Kite that as appeared from its perch in the woods. Slow and methodical, the Kite uses the wind to steer its low-level flight across the open fields as it searches for food. This large bird of prey (two-metre wingspan) uses its large red forked tail to steer its course, twisting from one side to the other to counteract the wind.
The Red Kite is my dragon, the dragon I said I couldn’t find. I discovered an even bigger dragon while watching the Northern Lights from the comfort of my bed. There it was, DRACO! How could I have missed the biggest Dragon of them all? A twinkling cascade of stars falls from the zenith between the plough and the north star onto the treetops.
By day, after the Woodcock and Barn Owl have returned to their roost, the garden is invaded by hundreds of birds, all keen to eat. Jackie and I watch the goings-on over the tops of our tea mugs. A Host Of Sparrows dash from cover to cover, filling the garden with their busy chirps and chatter. Seven Bullfinches pick meticulously at the buds of the Blackthorn; a charm of twenty-five Goldfinches alights the leafless fruitless apple tree, to warm in the early Sunlight. Flashes of vivid lemon yellow are emitted from the drab, sleeping shrubs by Siskins as they bicker amongst themselves.
Catkins are swayed by the gentle breeze, unfortunately not a scirocco. Brrrrrr. It’s still nippy.
The meagrest amount of sunlight has changed the mood of everyone and everything around us. Snowdrops grace the embankments and Daffodils emerge from the soil like missiles from their silos. I like the German name for Daffodil, it’s Oester Glochen, Easter Bells. Crocus produces explosions of colour on the garden floor.
Local Farmers are getting ready for lambing, some have even washed their pickups.
Yes, Spring is here, and there’s so much more to see and enjoy.