Tuesday, 19 February 2013
A thrushes song reverberates through the thick fogged air from the clouded top of an ivy-clad tree. From my right, comes the persistent, high-pitched squeaking of blue tits, and the distant muffled barking of a dog from a garden beyond. It is just after 9 am on a Monday morning in February. In the background is the ever present whoosh of traffic along the main road, whilst hidden in the fog jackdaws and crows squabble over stolen cattle fodder. I am standing by a small copse, on the edge of a rough lane that runs between council housing estate, and farmland. In the summer the fields are head-high with maize, harvested in the autumn and stored to feed over-wintering beef cattle, that churn the frozen mud around ice rimmed feeders, and sigh heavy clouds of fogged breath in the weak sun. Further along the track is a fishing lake. There has been a herons nest here the past 2 years, but it failed last year due to untimely storms. A single nest in a tall alder tree that leans on the far bank of the lake, it is an unusual breeding spot for this bird which usually nests in large colonies. Today the fog is too thick to see the tree from the track so I make my way along the side of the lake. It is hard to tell where fog ends and water starts, except for a few blurred and ghostly reflections. Great tits and blue tits call from alder and willow and a wren scolds me from waterside rushes. As I reach the end of the lake the heron tree emerges from the fog. It is empty. I'm tempted to wait awhile but soon the frost and fog start to claim my fingers and nose, and I turn away, burying my hands deep in my pockets. The herons are late, they usually return before valentines day, but half a week has past since then. I am being scolded again by the wren in the rushes and decide its time to go home.