7 Apr 2016

7th April 2016 Not a silent spring.


Thursday 7th 40-47F, 4-8C, gales, heavy overcast with wintry showers. Not much chance of a ride from looking at the forecast. Though there is always hope. Hail was roaring on the roof as I ate my bowl of home made, organic muesli.

An interesting study in geometry. A home-made Larch wood for pheasant shooting on a steep, eastward facing slope. A few mature trees were retained from the original scrubby growth.

The muesli was suggested decades ago by a specialist when I was suffering from gnawing stomach pains in my youth. At that time I was stuffing my face with a large, heaped bowl of several different 'Big Names' breakfast cereals with lashings of white sugar and it didn't agree with me. I also felt "starving" only an hour after eating that huge breakfast. The specialist told me to avoid the heavily TV advertised, muesli "readymix" which had too much salt. I was also advised to stop adding three heaped teaspoons of sugar to my endless cups of black coffee and tea. Sometimes young shoulders need a big dollop of wisdom to solve their problems.

Plain porridge oats with cold, low fat milk [and NO SUGAR] was like eating sawdust at first. Though I eventually came to enjoy it. Each different "make" of organic porridge oats tastes different. There are also two textures. Primarily fine and coarse but there is always a variation. I mix my porridge with hazel nuts and raisins for a bit of textural variety. This strange new breakfast soon stopped my gnawing, stomach pains and [magically] I was no longer hungry soon after breakfast. Far better for you than a fried breakfast! I was doing heavy manual work at that time. Having solved the world's "weight problem" yesterday I had better change the subject completely or become an even worse boor. If that is [remotely] possible.

And in breaking news: A big city Jutland council has found that 1/5th of its wayside trees is either dead or dying. An excess of winter salt, poor soil and growing conditions are blamed. It is intended to replace the 'poorly' stock since they have such beneficial effects. Meanwhile, Ash tree disease is likely to have similar effects to the earlier Elm disease. Their absence will leave a large gap in many a landscape.

Few trees have invested in leaves so far this year. Only the scrubby, roadside "fruit" bushes have made a good start with uniform sized, bright green leaves. I will have to wait until it fruits to confirm its type. The viciously spiny stems look like gooseberry but I certainly haven't seen any gooseberries dangling in the hedgerows. Cherries are in flower but not yet in leaf. Buds are sprouting everywhere with the mixed garden willows now very close to opening their leaves. Many trees have an almost bronzey hew to their greenery when they first open. Immature beeches still cling onto their brown leaves from last year. Eventually falling to providing a weed inhibiting mulch to avoid too much competition for moisture and nutrition.

The garden trees are being visited by many Wood pigeons, Jackdaws, Magpies and blackbirds. Their ability to fly in such gusty winds and hold onto the wildly swaying branches is remarkable. I realised years ago that birds' flying skills are greatly underestimated by the casual observer. Just watching a large Buzzard effortlessly flying though densely packed branches in the forest is a real eye opener. Every single bird must avoid collisions between their highly complex habitats, constantly changing environmental conditions and their lightweight skeletons. Otherwise the ground would be [quite literally] littered with dead carcasses.

Fast moving traffic is their main enemy as they try to cross familiar roads by swooping downwards to gain speed. Birds make excellent wind vanes when the wind is blowing, however slightly. A whole flock will usually sit in the tree facing the same way for a quick lift off. Gulls are the same when resting on open fields. Birds acrobatics, when seeing off a competitor or chasing a potential mate, are absolutely mind boggling for their incredible speed and agility. I often disturb birds when riding at up to 25mph on my trike. Few birds have any difficulty [at all] in leaving me far behind from a sitting start. Many small birds must easily manage 40mph within only a second or two. Ducks and pigeons can easily fly above 60mph.

Swans and geese can fly at incredible altitudes. There have been anecdotal  reports of climbers looking up from the summit of Everest at 29,000 feet and seeing migrating geese flying well above them. Whooper swans were confirmed by radar and pilot observation to be flying over Northern Ireland at over 27,000 feet. Nobody reported whether they [the geese] were talking to each other.

An hour's walk along the road and back in a rather cool gale. It started raining as I approached home.
The gales and showers suggest a rest day from the trike.

Click on any image for an enlargement.


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