The snow’s gone, the rain is back with a vengeance and the temperature is in the dizzy heights of double figures (centigrade that is). The common is damp and drab, and the usual shining autumn browns are dulled with saturated dank-looking brackens. I’m curious to see when the redwings will go. I suspect they won’t retreat east until there’s a general thaw across the country and ironically, with the wet ground bringing worms to the surface, the conditions here are just right for them now. Moles too are probably grateful for the thaw; the grass verges on each side of the road are peppered with the fruits of their labour. The village green, waterlogged in places, provides bathing for thrushes and gulls, and a few locals in wellies are at last able to exercise their canine companions.
I walk in late afternoon through the wood down to the beach. The great-spotted woodpeckers that deserted my peanut feeders during the snow are here, and I wonder why they didn’t stay in the garden. There’s little else to break the silence of the bleak winter wood, and I meet nobody. A wet looking Buzzard sits motionless beneath the canopy, as though waiting for the rain to stop. At the beach, and along the coastal path the warm drizzle is somehow comforting. A southerly wind blows salt spray onto the flattened slopes above the shore. Rock pipits, well adapted to their warmer intertidal winter home, seem not to have suffered from the cold weather. The thin line between the beach and shore usually escapes the snow, and it’s where I find the birds. A cormorant stands on a rock drying out its wings, and turnstones are doing what turnstones do. I can see only a few hundred yards into the misty sea, but enough to make out a few common scoters and some shags. Turning for home, I feel good that we’re more or less back to normal warm, wet, winter weather; such are the pleasures of living by the sea.