Clearing the moat dug around the pig ark may give just a hint of the horrors of the Somme: sage-green ooze sucks at wellingtons, staying on the shovel just sufficient to be thrown clear; hens cower tight under perimeter ivy and fencing to avoid rain and mud; 120lbs on four sharp trotters have puddled the orchard as effectively as clay canal lining.
Mild temperatures have brought on winter salads in the cold glasshouse despite late sowing: Japanese Mustards; Rocket & Land Cress; and 9 varieties of Italian Lettuce, Endive & Chicory; all grown as cut-and-come-again salad leaves through newspaper; a taste of summer in winter.
Since the week of the longest day, loud repeated Song Thrush couplets ring out over the valley with occasional, simple and wild Mistle Thrush song and Great Tit insistent 2-note refrain; first sounds of spring to join Robin’s sweet trill and pugnacious Wren enfilade.
Nothing unusual in over-wintering waders and ducks on estuary & shore with sea-duck, divers & grebes on the sea, nevertheless, the winter landscape brings rich, memorable images: storm-blown, dirty sea pounds the beach and rocky shore with creamy surf; solitary Grey Heron stands erect like a gangly guest in grey wedding suit, hands clasped behind, looking out to sea; bony knee-deep in broken wave swash sweeping over rock and dark bladder-wrack, dangling dark crest blown sideways in the wind.
Little Egret is less patient: angelic white, wading on black stick legs in a dark drain, prodding with yellow feet, rushing and stabbing deftly after small-fry flushed from the muddy bottom; then off, sailing high over the dyke to the sandy estuary, briefly sharing a sandy, shallow pool with an equally elegant Redshank, both birds chasing and stabbing at tiny prey before off yet again in buoyant flight deeper into the marsh.
Wildlife Wales Activities: www.wildlife-wales.co.uk