November 9th- fieldfares and disoriented pink-footed geese

We have had some great contrasts in the weather over the weekend. Some of the most dense fog I have seen since we have lived here lay like a very heavy blanket over the village on Saturday morning. It wasn’t until early afternoon that some signs of a break in the fog opened up to reveal a stunning cerulean blue sky. Sunday saw more gloomy foggy conditions which failed to clear leading to a long slow darkening of the afternoon.

Yesterday evening Hannah messaged me from Ampleforth to report pink-footed geese calling there. I could just about hear them three miles away in Gilling but as the evening went on the calls became frequent over here too. It seems that migrating pink feet were confused in the foggy conditions. Stood on the back lawn I could easily hear their wing beats along with their distinctive “wink wink” calls. It was actually very disconcerting to hear and I couldn’t help wondering if the birds were in a state of panic; it was clear from the volume of the calls and the audible wing beats that they were very low. Sleep was almost impossible for me with all the noise outside. Not only that, the temperature outside would not be uncommon on a midsummer’s night.

This morning, rather weary from lost sleep I walked across some local fields. The fog was beginning to clear revealing some dark chestnut brown woodland edges. The old oaks near the village hall looked very dark against the misty landscape. It is however very mild. A peacock butterfly flew across the garden, stirred from hibernation. Many species of small birds were making aerial sorties to catch small flying insects. Fieldfares and blackbirds were the predominant thrush species. Fieldfares took to the skies as soon as the fog cleared, roaming slowly west across the grey sky.

The morning was so gloomy so I decided to sketch some long-tailed tits, though in the mild temperature they didn’t linger on the feeders, preferring instead to find natural food in various trees and shrubs around the garden. But what cheer they bring on some of the dullest days of the year.

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