Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

Snow Birds

blackbird tracksThursday, 8th February, 2007
snowWE’RE NOT USED to snow with the mild winters we’ve had in recent years so the 1 cm of soft snow and the grey sky promising more to come is enough to make us think twice about setting off for Leeds for a book launch. There’s so much traffic around the city that the gritters can’t get out if there’s a snowfall at rush hour and it can take several hours to get home once it gets gridlocked.

pheasantThe cock pheasant seems to enjoy slipping around on the ice. He makes a circuit of the pond, stopping to peck at the edges.

mute swansIt’s the mute swans on the canal that come close to having an accident. As we walk to the post office, I point out to Barbara the pair of them flying directly towards us, low over the dark water and a few snow-powdered icy islands. When they get to the bridge one continues under the arch but the other attempts to gain height, clears the railing close to us by a foot or so, flies on heavily in front of the startled motorists waiting at a red light then, as it lurches down at the other side of the bridge, it is so close to the snow-covered parapet that its tucked-in feet make contact momentarily as it descends.

I’ve heard of swans killing themselves by colliding with bridge parapets but you’d think this pair, who must have flown this way a thousand times, would have had plenty of experience of the manoeuvre.

We planted them only 3 days ago but the seedlings of the oriental salad leaves are already showing through. We might be trimming the first few leaves in a little over two weeks. Makes me feel that spring isn’t so far away.