Nellie’s Winter Notes

Hi from Nellie and friends as this long, cold, arctic winter continues into early spring.  More snow showers driven by a strong easterly wind have kept the spring birds away.  We thought the 2 weeks of snow and low temperatures earlier in the year was winter 2013.  Getting about wasn’t easy but four legs are definitely better than two when moving about on the ice and snow.   The snow melted and the rain arrived causing pools of water to appear on the fields and marshes of Claxton.  The risk of flooding in Claxton increases as any melt waters or rain descend from the higher ground at Poringland passing through the Hellington valley to Claxton Corner and eventually the river.   The beck was full threatening Marsh Barn and the cottages at Claxton Corner.   To help reduce the risk, the pressure of the water was released by allowing it to overtop the beck and run safely into the marsh drainage system away from the properties.  A timely reminder of our low lying geography and the risks posed by flood waters whatever their source.

The wet weather and acres of water on the marshes have certainly been a bonus for the overwintering birds with flocks of golden plover, wigeon, black headed gulls and lapwings punctuated by oyster catchers, snipe and redshanks as regular visitors.   The occasional bright day has encouraged the local skylarks to ascend and sing despite ground covered in frost and light snow.  We have several regular visitors to the village and marsh who are keen photographers and owl watchers, seeking the perfect image of the local barn and short eared owls.  One I met had travelled from Leicester and spent the weekend in the snow showers standing on the marsh path, by the cattle bridge with his camera and large lens.  He was rewarded with some excellent images of the local owls.  You may be fortunate to see the short eared owl quartering low and slow over the marsh seeking out small rodents.  Occasionally they are disturbed by large birds such as buzzard and marsh harrier and will fearlessly attempt to drive away these large raptors.   So take a stroll down onto the marsh and you may be lucky and get a good view of this fascinating owl that has chosen to over winter on Claxton marsh.  Have a great Easter break!

Nellie

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