Real winter

Yup this is it.  It’s here.  Two inches of snow, Heathrow flights cancelled, “stay in your homes” warnings from the police, two power cuts in the space of five hours – plus internet knocked out for nine hours.

First light today wasn’t very. The day dawned very slowly and mistily to reveal crunchy icy snow everywhere.  The cats ventured out. Leo made his first foray on to the ice on the pond to stare longingly at the tasty orange things floating beneath. Watching him walk gingerly across the snow, you could tell he wasn’t fussy. He kept stopping, lifting a paw and shaking it.

Lily, on the other hand was  much more game.   First, though, I have to say that dogs are much more fun in the snow than cats. Rolls positively welcomed having a snowball lobbed straight at him and he loved a high one that he could leap up and gnash to bits in mid-air. He also liked getting his nose down low and snow-ploughing trails around the garden before rolling in a kind of snowy ecstasy and then wanting to come straight back into the house to drip-dry indoors. My other springer, Gemma, also loved the snow and used to career down the hill alongside the sledge but the boys never quite achieved their ambition of getting her to pull it back up for them.

I was expecting great things of Lily, being the retriever of the two cats.  Throw one of her toy mice for her and she’ll dash to get it and bring it back so you can throw it again.  She’s got much longer staying power at retrieving than the last two springers I’ve had.

So I fashioned a cat-sized snowball (cat-sized in small enough for a cat to carry, not the actual size of a ginger tom) and threw it to the back of the garden, she ran after it, got to it, sniffed it and looked at me as if to say “What? Are you mad?”

She rather liked the throwing and chasing but she definitely wasn’t going to do the fetching.   It was a bit of a shame. What’s not to like about picking up and carrying ice crystals?

Anyway, the good thing about snow is that you can go tracking. It’s best to go early before the dog walkers but we’d missed our chance on that one, so we did a little light trespassing in fields and on little-used trails.

After snowfalls in previous years, I’ve scoured the area for badger tracks – and found the regular path they use from their sett in the wood through two fields down to the river to drink.  Today it wasn’t hard to locate the tracks again – creatures of habit, they are still using precisely the same route.

There were bird tracks – don’t ask me – and deer tracks (probably fallow) and then, down by the river, on a snowy flat bit of bank that is usually mud, a trail of prints that emerged from the water, went along the flat and then up into the field and got lost in the broken snow on the grass.  Otter!!

A friend told me she’d seen an otter one morning two summers ago and there’s been talk of otters repopulating this stretch of river but this was the first time I’d seen actual evidence.

Ok, it was cold today, it was misty and moody and tricky underfoot but wow, otter pawprints?  Otterly worth it!

Otter prints

About janh1

Part-time hedonist.
This entry was posted in Countryside, Current Affairs, Dogs, Kittens and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Real winter

  1. valzone says:

    Hi Jan, lovely post, and wow, Otter prints, how wonderful. You must set up a hide, and watch.

  2. IsobelandCat says:

    Nice to see where you went and to have cat update pix. Cat on a hog, interesting.
    I only saw an otter once, briefly, it was swimming in the harbour at Lochmaddy. Another time I could see the trail in the water but not the creature. there were otters near Mother’s bungalow, all very hush hush and residents didn’t want them scared away, but I never saw them

    • janh1 says:

      Otter locations tend to be hush-hush mainly because they are shy and don’t like the scent of too many people and especially dogs on their territory. Brilliant to witness evidence of the come-back at first hand though. 🙂

      There’s an actress and TV presenter called Daphne Neville who lives in the Golden Valley and has a beautiful lake where she used to swim with her tame Asian short-clawed otters. Great fun. I’d love to go to Shetland and watch wild otters in daylight.

  3. Pseu says:

    fantastic to see the otter prints. Did you see their spraints too? We have otters on our little stretch of river, down by the canal, but I haven’t seen the evidence with my own eyes. Yet 🙂

  4. How exciting that you might see an otter. Probably when you least expect it.

    I love the expressions on Leo and Lily’s faces. There is an air of faint disgust there 😀

    • janh1 says:

      Maybe, Sophie! 🙂 It will be interesting to see if Leo ventures back on to the pond ice when it gets thinner. It’s been dark since I got home but I must go out there and check!

  5. Steve says:

    I love the fog photo – it’s the sort of picture you would expect to find in an art gallery! Congratulations on toughing it through the snow storm. Here’s hoping Spring is only a few weeks away.

  6. janh1 says:

    Hi Steve, thanks. Oh yes, here’s hoping. I’m relying on the turbo trainer at the moment and while I like doing intervals to the music on the itouch, I’d much rather be out there on the road – minus fog and ice! 😉

  7. I have been looking forward to this ever since that tweet of yours….throwing snowballs for cats. Jan, they broke the mould when they made you.

    Gorgeous post. As usual 🙂

  8. janh1 says:

    Thanks Kate! 🙂

    “As temporal replicas become transformed through frantic and diverse practice, the viewer is left with a new agenda of the darkness of our existence.” My favourite Arty Bollocks. I should really do a drawing to illustrate that.

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