In a morning that brought sleet, snow, rain and hail in equal measure, the pair of Crows that occupy the old Ash tree, behind Tense Towers, began to titivate their nest for the coming season. Despite the weather, they battled the elements to collect and transport a selection of twigs to upgrade last year's des res into the sort of contemporary accommodation that any discerning corvid would desire.
After breakfast, we drove down to Hanson Environmental Study Centre to drop off some books for the second-hand stall run by the Friends group. On a fence post by the single track road into the reserve, we were surprised to discover a very bedraggled Barn Owl, scanning the adjacent pasture for prey. I guess the rain that has been omnipresent for the last few nights has made hunting difficult and hunger has driven this bird to be out in daylight in less-than-favourable conditions.
Having completed our literary errand, Our Lass and I had a potter to the Near Hide and back, spotting the owl once more by the old Oak in the paddock and then glimpsing a Kingfisher and a pair of Pintail from the hide. At the end of the boardwalk, a few Coltsfoot were braving the elements though, wimps that we are, we didn't stay out too long.
Back at the Centre, we popped in for a cup of tea and a chat, entered the 'Guess the name of the Otter' competition to win a framed photo of one of the stars of Autumnwatch (no, it isn't Michaela, Chris, Kate or Martin) and even bought a book to grace the recently-created space on our shelves. Despite, or possibly because of, the miserable weather, there were visitors enjoying the view from the warm, dry Centre and watching the bird feeders or the occasional passing Muntjac deer. Very civilised and all in a good cause. Many thanks to the kind-hearted team of Friends volunteers who give of their time and effort to provide this facility for permit holders and the local community.
And even better news, there's only four weeks until the dragonfly season begins!