The Arrival of the ‘Beast from the East’
Tuesday, February 27th 2018
The wonderfully-titled 'Beast from the East' didn't so much roar in today as make a quiet entrance. Snow had already been falling for a couple of hours before coming in to work, and continued to do so throughout the first half of the morning. When it stopped, around 10 centimetres (4 inches) was lying, so not quite the depths that some had been predicting.
This was enough to cause some difficulties in driving, and we have to thank our cleaning staff for walking up along the access road to the Field Centre to get it ready for the rest of the day. It also meant that some of our regular volunteers opted to stay at home rather than come in, so we had only a couple of them in today. Clearing the paths around the Centre was the first task for the day. No doubt we will have to repeat this again tomorrow, but if we can keep on top of this it makes life easier for those coming to the Centre.
Following this, the next jobs were checking all of the feeders around the Centre and at the hides. The Lake has not fully frozen so that many of the Mallard and Moorhen are still on the water but also keeping an eye out for the feed being spread for them. Some are so eager that they're out of the water before you have time to get out of the way. Finally, a start was made on splitting some logs to have kindling ready for any future bonfires.
At times, rather than seeming like being stuck in the grip of freezing conditions, the weather seemed almost benign and the sun on the Wetland made the area look very scenic. Ten minutes later and the snow shower was so heavy that it was assuming blizzard proportions. 'Changeable' somehow seems to be an understatement.
The 'Beast' may well show it's true colours in the next couple of days with heavy snow forecast for Thursday. We are checking how Taurus and Lark are doing in the snow as it will be the accumulation of snow over a period that will cause concern. At the moment, as they walk around, the heat from their hooves is melting the layer of snow to expose the vegetation underneath so they can carry on grazing.
Once the snow becomes deeper, as forecast, this will not be happening and so they will need feed put out for them to supplement what they can reach. Hay has already been bought in for them, and we'll see how much snow falls overnight which will determine whether we need to feed them in the morning..