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Winter Warmers

1st of February 2011

I still have not grown out of my love of snow, and this winter it came when I was at my lowest and gave me a boost. I had a wonderful time whizzing down the hills in Scatterdells woods on my toboggan with the children from the lane and having snow ball fights, too, of course! We have always loved looking at the tracks in the snow to see who is sharing the garden with us. This year the most surprising thing was the sheer number of rabbit tracks. It’s a wonder I have any plants left in the garden….. Maybe I won’t if it’s a long winter.
Once again I have left the pumps running on the ponds to stop the water from freezing over completely. The wildlife made a track straight from the shrubbery by the bungalow to the wildlife pond. It was about 18 inches wide and so well used that one could not make out individual tracks. My son called it the wildlife M1 and saw badgers on it on Christmas night. They then went back to their old habit of fighting over spilt peanuts by his bedroom window and keeping him awake at three in the morning.
The birds need open water not just for drinking, but also to bathe and keep their feathers in good condition during the cold nights. I had a lovely view of a Sparrowhawk having a bath by the little waterfall. I could clearly see the bars on its pale under wings although it looked black and white instead of the rich brown the bars really are as it was wet. Only as it rose from the water could I see its bright yellow legs. It was a dull afternoon, just before dusk, and the snow made everything look like an old black and white photograph. I think the area around the pond must have been a great hunting ground for it; there were small feathers all over the place on top of the snow. They usually have a favourite plucking place, a stump or the top of a post, but I have not found it yet.
Am I the only person in Chipperfield over 40 who is hoping for a bit more snow? Who wants to be a boring old grown up! Wendy Bathurst

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