Tracks and trails

There was a light snow overnight and a crusty sprinkling over the grass when Lyra and I ventured out for a mid morning walk. As we passed the little wood to the east the shallow snow was covered in prints. In amongst the pointy toes of deer there were lots of what looked like the prints of a very small dog, but with rather too many toes. I was pondering this as we went the long way around the hedge (the prospect of ending up on my rear taking the steep and icy shortcut seemed too high). However, as we turned the hedge corner and I looked across the field the answer was staring me in the face, literally. In the middle of the snowy field there were two large brown hares, up on their hind legs, circling on another and throwing punches. They glanced at us, but were sufficiently intent on their boxing match to return to the fray for a few more uppercuts before dropping to all fours and running off into the trees. I have never seen hares boxing before and I was entranced. Surprisingly tall on their hind legs they had a rangy elegance. There was something of the regency blade about them. This is surely much too early though? March I think is the usual time. Discussing this later with Laura, she reported finding a wild goose egg on her walk a couple of days ago. Strange days indeed.

The distant pot pot of gunshot and the excitement of the hares, which I secretly hoped might reappear, determined me to keep Lyra on the lead. I felt slightly mean about this as we had to cross the stubble field where she usually gets off for a run so, by way of compensation, we took a slight detour and instead of crossing on the diagonal, ran along the southern tree belt and crossed into the next field where we fusselled in the trees, disturbing a pheasant and swarm of tiny birds. At the end of this field, peeping through the hedge, we spotted two does nibbling at the winter wheat. Inevitably, they bounded off just as I pulled out my camera. We turned towards the road, passing a stretch of hedge formed of scrog apple trees. The branches were still festooned with tiny yellow green apples, the only fruit left in the hedgerow now.

We slithered home on the icy road. Shuna Spurtle was enjoying the new bale of straw mightily when we got back. I had a moment of panic though, wondering where the other three had got to before spotting them hiding behind the hedge. It never ceases to amaze me how large orange cows can hide in a relatively empty field. (I’m not sure where I thought they might have gone exactly – rustlers perhaps….there has been a recent local warning about “rural crime” which led to much ribald laughter over dinner as different offences were suggested. (Actually, there is quite a serious problem with farm machinery thefts in the area so it’s not really so funny..))

Darting round the garden I spotted some early Iris and cowslips (again much too early). What will be left for April?

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