Winter, taking flight
The weather this month is giving us the mixed messages typical of early Spring; or, as it is better named in these parts, the ‘dreich end’ of Winter.
Our little early cherry blossom and the first crocuses are blooming already,
but the days of bright sun melting frosted fields, and the growing confidence of birdsong in the woods, can turn in a moment to biting gales and snow showers.
Ruffled by the continual freeze, thaw and re-freeze of the water, the pair of mute swans who usually nest on the lochan by the castle have not yet settled down there. Most days there is one swan; some days the mate returns; one mild morning I heard the unmistakeable beating of great wings and saw that a third had arrived. This caused much puffing up of feathers from the established pair, who patrolled the water like galleons in full sail while the new arrival stood uncertainly on the bank. As it turned out, after the display they all settled down beside each other on the grass for a while. Was he, as seems likely, their offspring who was raised here last year with two siblings? If so, he was just paying a flying visit to mum and dad: next morning he was nowhere to be seen.
Yesterday the cob and pen also left, if only until the next thaw. We humans enjoyed a very snowy day at the weekend, when our boys were at last able to build snowmen and have snowball fights for almost the first time this winter, and the castle looked dour but picturesque in the snowfall.
For the swans, however, a layer of snow over the newly re-frozen lochan was enough to drive them away to search for open water somewhere else. Funnily enough, as I was thinking of them one evening, I noticed a cloud formation in the sunset which looked, to my eyes, uncannily like a great bird taking flight. I hope that the swans will return to our water soon, as Spring grows more certain.