Brrrrr! I think our weather’s jealous of all the coverage the Winter Olympics is getting and wants to get in on the act. We’ve had something on an Arctic blast this week -which February can be prone to, it’s either lovely or freezing. The week actually started quite pleasantly, cold but clear, and we were looking across the reserve thinking about spring. Once you’re into February, the birches seem to take on a purple-y bloom, one of the first signs that the sap is starting to rise in the trees.
And there are other signs of spring. Where there have been gardens (or even garden waste chucked over a wall) many years ago, you find little patches of snowdrops.
And the first nettles are up, as I discovered when I knelt down to photograph the snowdrops…and they can sting through trousers, even at that size! Mind you, our ancestors would have been glad to see them- these would have been the first fresh greens they would have had to eat for six months. They’re full of iron- even more than spinach – and boiling removes the sting…but they do still have a furry sort of texture.
Even before the snow arrived, it was very cold. The strong winds kept ice off the lochs in the first part of the week…but where the water splashed up round the edges of the lochs, there was an icy tide-line.
In the more sheltered bays, small “pancakes” of ice formed. These sometimes form in moving water, as all the corners get rounded off pieces of ice as the knock against one another. I’ve seen them in rivers before but never on the lochs- a testament to just how windy it has been this week.
It wasn’t just the lochs that were icy. Delicate frost crystals had formed on the lichens and bearberry.
But, even after having a fine morning, with a beautiful sunrise…
…the snow wasn’t far away. At first it was just the odd flake, apparently falling from a clear, blue sky.
But it wasn’t long until it was on in earnest. And it blizzarded too, with the strong winds whipping the flakes into an icy haze.
One advantage of the snow if that you can see what’s been going about. A roe deer must have walked right past the visitor centre.
And a blackbird had been under the peanut feeder.
But the weather has taken it’s toll and Thursday involved helping to make safe a tree in Waterside Woods at Forvie. The wind had tipped it over and hung it up near the footpath – so it had to go. It wasn’t an easy job either- it was a large, double-stemmed sycamore caught in other trees. Fortunately, we’d both had tree work training and have a good winch, so it came down safely. Hard work though- in one of the pictures, you can see the furrow the trunk made as we winched it down. It’s a hand winch we have and you get maybe an inch of cable moved for each pull of the handle. Given that furrow is 15-ish feet long, that’s a fair bit of winching and we’re glad it’s the weekend now!