We had been getting anxious for bats, not having seen any flitting above our patio this year. But we finally saw one—just one—on Tuesday evening. The bats are attracted to the house by insects, which are themselves attracted there by the residual day-warmth radiating from the stones of our south-west-facing house. The warmth was very noticeable. Jen and I could feel it from at least ten feet away. Our own little micro-climate!
Seeing the bat made my week.
Then, on Wednesday, we made a day-trip to Whitby to buy crab and to eat fish and chips. We took our farmer friend along for good measure. The fish and chips were excellent, as was the crab, which we ate in a sandwich for lunch on Thursday.
On Saturday morning, while I was playing fetch with Bill's dog, Skip, I heard a strange bird-call. I scoured the neighbouring copse with my binoculars for ten minutes before I tracked down the exotic creature: a great tit. Oh, well. Great spotted woodpeckers were drumming incessantly on tree-trunks and calling loudly, establishing their territories, but I only snatched a couple of glimpses of them as they flew through the trees.
Meanwhile, upstairs, Jen threw back the bedroom curtains, only to see a stag of some sort ambling across the field. Needless to say, I didn't see it.
A short while later, a red kite circled overhead, on the look-out for carrion. It was only then that it occurred to me that I should have had my camera ready, as you're practically guaranteed to see a red kite or two at Bill's.
Having learnt my lesson, I had my camera ready next morning, as I played ball with Skip once more. So, of course there was no sign of any red kites. Then, as we were packing, I glanced out of the window and saw three of them soaring together. In a blind panic, I fumbled my camera out of its bag, threw open the window, and managed to fire off a few shots before the kites disappeared.
Never, ever put your camera away! You should know that by now, Richard!
Jen and I went for a walk around the lanes this afternoon, and I finally saw some fieldfares. I was beginning to think I might go an entire winter without seeing any! They had congregated in some silver birch with some redwings and starlings:
I don't know why, but I'm quite pleased with this minimalist second shot:
I went to sleep at Dad's last night to the sound of a vixen screeching to attract potential mates. She was very nearby—on the railway line most likely. It is a disconcertingly human-sounding noise. Indeed, the first time Mum and Dad heard it, many decades ago, they thought a woman was being attached. They stood worried at the bottom of the garden, trying to work out where the noise was coming from, wondering whether they should call the police.
The mid-winter screeches of vixens is one of the sounds of my childhood. I have only heard it once here in Yorkshire: in August 2001, on Jen's and my very first night in our new home. It carried on for about 20 minutes, until in was terminated by a single shotgun blast. Foxes are not tolerated in sheep country.
Jen and I have continued our regular walks around the Nook Circuit this week. It has been extremely cold, and extremely icy. But we managed to avoid snow until this afternoon.
Walking into the blizzard made looking where we were going very uncomfortable, so we didn't see much. But, as we emerged from the Carr Track, we turned uphill out of the wind. Scores of rooks and jackdaws were wheeling above the house in the driving snow: a black blizzard in a white blizzard.
Then, en masse they landed in our sycamore. By the time I raised my camera, however, they were flying down into the field, looking for somewhere better to shelter.
It has been bitterly cold, but the air has been clear and crisp. To make the most of the weather, Jen and I walked the Nook Circuit four times since Sunday.
On Thursday, I took a photo of a wintry sun setting behind Stoodley Pike Monument. I only remembered to upload it to my computer yesterday. It's not often that one of my own photographs makes me go Wow!