The woods stand perfectly still, the air is calm and yet there is always one branch shaking like it has the crazy itches. What's that all about?
The cold hung heavily with the constant drone of commuter traffic. In complete contrast to the last time we searched for barn owls, when a peaceful silence shaped the atmosphere before their arrival. However, this was not the Haven, but the centre of Gosport - pause for 'jaws-like' dramatic music to start-up.
From experience, it seems that barn owls are good time-keepers and stick to a time-table, unlike waxwing. And sure enough at 5.11pm, the appointed time, the female flew out of the alder carr and into view. At first she simply made circuits, reconnoitring the field, flying stiff winged, like one of those elastic band powered toy aeroplanes.
Then 'old hushwing' started to hunt displaying great manoeuvrability; cartwheeling, hovering and plunging into the grass for prey. Drifting towards us she landed in a small tree a few feet away. She peered hunchbacked into the woods - we could just make out her markings, small teardrops trickling down her ochre-coloured back. A male emerged, he was much more ghost-like, white wings coloured blue-grey on the coverts and distinctly smaller. Together they floated over the meadow, gracefully performing an aerial ballet - beautiful. We watched for as long as the cold and light allowed us to, but eventually the dusk gave way to engulfing darkness and the white shadows mingled into the night.
The harebears are conspicuous by their absence. Apart from this worry, we set foot on the Haven, for the first time in ages. Enjoying some bar-tailed godwits and sanderling - good winter birds for the reserve and missing an Iceland gull (nothing new there then).
And, oh yes, the frogs are still doing unnecessaries in the pond.
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.