Everything appears to be stuck in a repetitive pattern at the moment. Rain, wind, rain, wind, rain, flood, sunshine, groundhogs having their day over and over again (oh yeah they're meant to). BBC reporting on said weather plumbing new depths of stupidity, making Playschool appear like a health and safety free-for-all (do they still make Playschool? I liked the arched window best). And the frogs are still at it in the pond - more spawn than water again.
To be fair the weather has kept us at the coalface, enabling us to put together the farm exhibition (see homepage) and me to bleat on about it on twitmaster. But it has been fun painting and linocutting the characters at Manor Farm. We're working on new images for the show all the time and plan evolve the contents throughout the three months it's on.
During the moments of sunshine that have coincided with a weekend, we've popped out for a breath of fresh air - along with most of the populace of Hampshire.
The first involved a hike up the River Hamble, from Warsash to Swanwick and back. Part of this route took us along the seawall that protects 'Bunny Meadows', part of the Hook-with-Warsash nature reserve. The 'Meadow' couldn't be less of a bunny magnet if it tried. Instead it is an area of saltmarsh whose low-tide mud is more of a bird magnet and a great place to watch waders and wildfowl. Our visit revealed a good selection of estuary bird vignettes; swirling flocks of dunlin, grey plover relaxing in the winter sun, a confiding kingfisher and a loafing grey heron stirred from it's drowsy state by three roe deer crashing through the marshes.
To be honest it was just nice to be out and stretching those leg muscles again.
Our other excursion from the desks was a more considered expedition to the New Forest. The blue skies told us that we had to be out, but the same message was probably being received by the rest of the world and his dog. So the plan was to take a walk away from the grockle trails - an area north from the car park at Acres Down was our destination. And it worked for two hours we hardly met a soul, the trouble was we hardly met any wildlife either. That was until we were nearly back to car and a distinctive 'chup, chup' call, alerted us to the presence of crossbills. The first calls were repeated and then mixed with a reeling/buzzing call of young birds begging to be fed. All this took place high in the treetops and once they had moved on, we were left with aching necks, but happy to have seen some activity at last. As we made our way back to the car we continued to hear and see more crossbills.
As a finale several hundred chaffinches, flitted amidst the beech trees, feeding on the beech mast, sometimes moving like a mass of discarded litter caught in a breeze. Secreted among them were a few brambling, unveiled by their white rumps in flight, only landing briefly to reveal their handsome orange and black colours before melting back into the mass of the flock.
If you're expecting words of wisdom from Dan and Rosemary you may be sadly disappointed. However, if you want to keep up to date with our current projects then pick up the feed at the top of this column.