19 Mar 2018

19th March 2018 You want extra winter with that?


Monday 19th 19-38F, -7+3C, calm and sunny. A hard white frost with almost no clouds at all. It will warm up to positive figures with light winds later, but becoming more cloudy.

I took my Ecco Torquemada GTXs up to and around the woods today. Being careful to wear odd pairs of socks to ensure a place in the Guinness Book of Records, I kept a constant  eye out for the official observer. No observer? No record. Not even if 6 billion "ordinary" people see you do it with their own eyes. That's the thing about commercial monopolies. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Just ask our previous, tyrannical sweep, council worker jobsworths, Gates or Zuckerberg.

The boots were fine on steep ascents but painful everywhere else. So it's back to the thumbscrews, I'm afraid. Yet again I was much too warm from putting on too many layers. Fine when I left, but it had warmed up to 0C but the time I returned. Saw several birds of prey and a small flock of Plovers. Which were flying determinedly, but silently eastwards. The skylarks are beginning to get into their musical stride but still few in numbers. First signs, or rather stinks, of pig shit spreading on the air.

Tuesday 20th 32F, 0C, clear and bright again but windy from the north. One of Uber's self driving cars has killed a pedestrian in a collision. So Uber have paused the self-driving exercise for the moment. There is no information other than that the woman pedestrian was not using a crossing. 6000 pedestrians [alone] were killed in the US in 2016 by human driven cars.

Rather oddly, there is no talk of pausing the use of human drivers. Nor do these tragic deaths make the international headlines. Perhaps they should?  Every mile using self-driving technology is a safer mile than letting the MkI human idiot take <cough> control. No day passes when the Danish motorways aren't blocked [for many hours] by <cough> accidents. Just putting self-driving technology into lorries would reduce accidents and road closures. Is there anyone reading this who hasn't been overtaken by a speeding car in impossibly dangerous conditions?

I tried two pairs of loop pile socks today to cushion my feet from the Ecco boots. It didn't stop the pain until I was nearly home again. I was leaning on the northerly wind as I headed for the lanes. Where I was overtaken by a vast, 7-axle tanker come to collect more muck from a farm tank. The sea-gulls were irritated by the lorry's presence and went up in a cloud to complain bout it. We don't usually hear the gulls despite their huge numbers. Great flocks of them go over whenever a tractor is ploughing or sewing. They make a fine sight on a thermal in bright sunshine. Heavy shopping in the car.

Wednesday 21st 32F, 0C, light winds, heavy overcast and snowing. It dropped to 25F, -4C overnight. The dusting of snow was short lived and was all but gone on my return from my walk. A large brown bird of prey was perched on one of the felled trees. It was still there later as I limped back home. Another day without a ride.

Thursday 22nd 38-43F, 3-6C,  heavy overcast, light winds. Overnight rain and rising temperatures have left the permafrost even soggier than before. It's weird when apparently solid mud turns to liquid on touch. Once rock hard paths suddenly become incredibly slippery and it glues itself to boots and shoes. The only thing which helps is gravel to bulk up the sticky mess but gravel is not always appropriate. Nor can you take it with you in case one's path in the countryside proves impossible. Imagine how they cope with deep-seated permafrost melting in usually, much colder countries.

It was drizzling lightly as I limped off in my Ecco boots. Today I was wearing a single pair of my thickest socks. Some considerable pain to start with but eventually it relented.

After a cold spell, the dynamo of life is beginning to spin up to speed again. With lots of birds about. I even have another mystery bird. A pair of rather dull green birds, not unlike a Green finch, but with bright, white tail lights on the male. Not a Siskin nor a Serin and certainly not Yellowhammers. I'll have to keep searching for an identification.

Just as I neared home I saw a mostly white bird of prey sitting rather incongruously in a dark, garden conifer. It did not move as I walked the length of the drive. By the time I looked out of an upstairs window it had moved much closer. Now perched in a tiny, bare tree out on the front lawn. I took a couple of snaps through the glass at full zoom. Even heavily cropped the bird remains small and not very sharp due to the acute angle of the shot. I was actually allowed out for a shopping trip. Only 7 miles. Going quite well.

Friday 23rd 36-38F, 2-3C, calm but overcast. Enjoyed a lengthy, but painful walk around the edges of fields and up through the firebreaks in the woods. The Ecco boots are still horribly painful on the inside ankle bones. The marsh pond is now unfrozen. A dozen or so mallards were sharing the water with a pair of smaller ducks. Possibly Pochards or Tufted ducks. Very striking male, with uniform grey back, ginger head, dark face, narrow white stripes along the sides [or wings] and strongly cream coloured rear flanks. The female was typically nondescript and brownish. I'll keep looking for a proper identification.

Unfortunately they flew off as soon as I stepped from behind the only concealing bush. They had seemed quite calm as the mallards dashed about.  Buzzards circled high overhead calling plaintively as a small line of Shelducks went over. There are still strips of dirty snow left behind under north facing banks or in deep shade. Busy at home. So no ride.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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