Nature notes from Low Hall Lake District country cottage, which is a real wildlife haven just now.
It is just a week before Easter, and spring is here. Last weekend we saw a hare run across the cottage lawn, following the stream boundary, out at the back. We have had hares on the far field for several years now, but not seen one come in so close before. They are larger and much more muscular than rabbits, and their colouring is quite beautiful. The hare population declined by about 80% over the last hundred years, with changes in farming practice, and in some parts of the UK they are a rare sight, so it is great to have an enclave here for them. They can reach speeds of up to 45mph, apparently. Thats my excuse for not getting a photo, but you can find pictures here.
This morning we had breakfast outdoors in the sunshine. My resident bird expert witnessed a large bird which he thinks was a sparrowhawk whizz by his head, at great speed, closely missing his left ear, as it zoomed towards some unsuspecting breakfast of its own. He has just knocked on the office window, to tell me he has just seen the first swallow. So thats it-great weather forcast, first swallows, Easter bunnies madly knitting chocolate, Easter lambs bouncing across grassy meadows, and we might even risk an outdoor supper later.
Three times, this week, I have seen a grey heron, which is sitting on the stream, just beyond the parking area for Low Hall Cottage. As I open the door, it rises, lazily flapping its great wings and flying off along the length of the stream towards Abbey gate.
Our guests from last week recorded seeing a red squirrel on their last day here, so we expect to have more sightings over these coming weeks. Alan Titchmarsh describes them as a “gentle and curious creature” and Prince Charles as “one of the most utterly charming British native mammals”. Again, it is a joy to know they are flourishing here.
There is a lot in the newspapers this weekend about happiness, wellbeing, and the concept of human flourishing. Apparently, one of the most important associations with human happiness is the absence of “mind wandering”; engaging in the “here and now” experience, whether an activity or a human interaction; being “in the flow”. I find these moments of encounter with the natural world, and wild creatures are a great source of happiness and wellbeing.
The daffodils are still flowering everywhere. The primroses are all out, lining the steps in the cottage woodland garden.
Over on the field the cowslips are in flower. They spread every year, so we transplant a few each year to other parts of the garden.
You will note I am rather better at taking photgraphs of flowers, than of hares or sparrowhawks. This is because flowers stay still, while hares and sparrowhawks move somewhat speedily. (up to 45mph if you have been paying attention)
Talking of things that move speedily, we have just been outside, watching the full moon rise over Low Fell and Fellbarrow. It came up so swiftly, you could almost feel the earth turning. One minute it was a small rim, then a half moon, then almost up.
There was a few moments when it gave the illusion of being suspended in front of the mountains, then it was a full circle up in the sky.