White hell

I really wouldn’t like to be in the Met Office’s shoes after the snowmageddon predicted for Dempsey Towers failed to materialise today.
The “poorcast” coincided with the precise time that Mrs D’s festive vibe was starting to kick in, and the holly and ivy was growing nervous.
Despite hourly checks through the night, not a flake fluttered down, and Santa’s little helper was not happy.
Any nearby weatherman or woman that stuck their head above the isobar parapet would have faced a blizzard of a snow-deprived tirade this morning.
Heading out seemed the smart move, and I got my kit together while Redwings continued to scoff the cotoneaster berries I hope will one day lure a Waxwing or two into the garden (that’s if the thrushes and Woodpigeons don’t eat ’em first).

I was going to check the tideline between Ainsdale and Birkdale, but it looked a bit grim, and I’ve been up to my oxsters in beached cetacean corpse there for the last two days anyway.
Funny how a slight change in position, when a carcass in advanced decomposition is moved by the tide, can radically alter our perception – I took the first pic on Friday evening, when head shape appeared to indicate a beaked whale.
Some beaker folk were even muttering “Sowerby’s” on social media…

Then yesterday morning the body had shifted in the tide and my next pic shows an altogether different impression of head-shape, pointing to an ex-Bottle Nosed Dolphin, albeit a seriously bloated one.

I still had to measure it all up and count the toothy-pegs once we’d got it off the beach though for recording purposes – never the sweetest smelling of jobs.
So today I decided to motor inland, clear the tubes and check the Withins.
Small flocks of Common Gulls, Lapwings and Starlings were spooked by a hunting Merlin, ripping about in the raw cold air, and one of the pale local Buzzards kept an eye on a tasty-looking muckheap from the vantage point of a rotting hay bale.

As I trundled slowly down the lane, I was delighted to see the back end of a Red Kite disappearing up into a distant hawthorn – presumably the bird that has been seen at Martin Mere and at Lunt already this winter.
No wing-tags visible, but it was a considerable distance away and stayed largely hidden in the branches as any lazy raptor would while the temperature plummeted and the first flakes of snow began to fall.

Typically the kite only stirred as the light really began to fail and snow filled the air after 2pm.

The raptor set off on a series of languid circling flights, drifting off into the snow showers towards Lydiate Station (pic at the top of this post), before I lost it behind the long bank.
I drove back towards Ainsdale as the snow got heavier – all very festive.
Inevitably just half a mile of home, the sky lightened and the flurries stopped.
Not a flake had fallen at the Towers.
Don’t think I’ll tell the boss…

2 thoughts on “White hell

  1. With the recent drop in temperatures and subsequent wintry weather, wildlife is also facing a few challenges, and at RSPB Leighton Moss nature reserve in Silverdale, the staff and volunteers are inviting visitors to come and find out more about helping wildlife this winter.
    After benefitting from a mild autumn, birds in particular struggle as cold snaps kick in and natural food sources start to dwindle. At Leighton Moss, staff and volunteers are keeping the wide variety of feeders well stocked to ensure that the birds can find food in even the harshest conditions. Similarly they are encouraging the public to help too by turning their own gardens into a haven for birds – topping up feeders, filling up bird baths and providing shelter for our feathered friends during the frosty weather.
    Visitors to the centre at Leighton Moss will find lots of information about how they can help wildlife this winter and the friendly staff and volunteers are on hand to give advice.
    Out on Leighton Moss itself, as the pools freeze over, some of the reserve’s more elusive residents can become easier to spot. Otters often come out skating on the ice while secretive bitterns and water rails emerge from the reeds on the pool edges in search of food.
    Families visiting Leighton Moss in December can find out more about how nature responds to the changes in the season by following the fascinating ‘Winter Wonderland’ family trail, available every day. Drop-in between 9.30am-3.30pm. It’s free to take part, normal admission charges apply to non-members.
    For more information on the wildlife and events at Leighton Moss, visit rspb.org.uk/leightonmoss
    For lots more ideas on how to help garden wildlife, visit rspb.org.uk/homes


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