Fom the vaults: Frost at least (at last) – (13/01/2012)

We’re used to making allowances for the vagaries of our climate, but weather conditions since new year have been well beyond the ordinary; prompting debates as to whether what we have been experiencing is lingering autumn or premature spring

p1060435This morning there was at least a covering of frost. Surface deep only, insubstantial and short-lived; but frost nonetheless.
It’s mid afternoon now and clouds of midges are dancing above our lawn. Indoors and without heating, room temperature is 16º. And it’s leading to confusion…
Out walking, it’s impossible not to be aware of spring-like behaviour: ducks and water fowl are hungry for everything offered; just as they are when the mating season is in full swing. Conversely, many of the usual indicators of winter remain absent: for the first time in many years there has not been a single blackcap on the feeders. On a short stroll we noticed several other species – long-tailed tits, greater spotted woodpecker, assorted corvids, even the raptors – seemingly unhurried in their feeding and hunting patterns, as if supplies were plentiful and the customary urgency of winter was unnecessary. In fact a pair of buzzards – possibly a matched pair – seemed to have found sufficient updraught to allow them to climb progressively without needing to expend much energy.
Berries remain in many hedgerows, obviously from last year. But gorse is also in flower and it’s impossible to say whether that’s an example of too late or too soon. There’s yet to be any sign of a wind with real bite; even the few days of strong gusts have been generally mild; more akin to early autumn than mid-winter.
Today it was warm enough to sit and have a sandwich and a cuppa without piling on the layers. I’d walked in base layer and lightweight fleece and just pulled on a windproof smock while we sat (we were at the most exposed point of the ridge). No gloves, no hat and comfortable – the second week in January. It doesn’t feel quite right.

I think these might colloquially be known as Velvet Shank, but I wouldn’t put money on it.