Saturday, 19 December 2009

Snowy Walks

As the blizzard raged on Thursday night, I lay awake, watching the horizontal lines of snow passing under the street light. I couldn't sleep because I knew my son was out in it. He and some friends had been to see the film Avatar and were driving back to Biggin Hill where my son would have to walk down into the valley as the hillside roads are too dodgy in heavy snow. He eventually got home at 12.30 am but then I couldn't sleep because I kept thinking about the ponies on the SSSI land. Dartmoor ponies are very hardy and there are plenty of sheltered areas in their field but it can't have been much fun for them.

Next morning I couldn't wait to see how they had fared and was pleased to see them in their usual position, looking rather wet and sporting a few icicle in their manes, but never the less looking happy. We broke up the ice in their water trough and then braved the slippery decent to check the fences. It was a beautiful walk with the sun coming out and lighting up the snow laden trees. I was amazed at the number of animal tracks (deer, badger, rabbit and fox). I'd have thought that most of the wildlife would have stayed 'at home' in such bad weather. This picture is of little Rufus...nothing stops him eating, even the snow, as you can see by his snowy muzzle.

My husband and I are really enjoying our stock checking duties, so much so we are now stock checkers for some sheep that the Old Surrey Downs Project have grazing at another site, fairly close to Biggin Hill. It is in a beautiful situation right on top of the North Downs. I don't have much experience of sheep so it will be interesting to find out more about them and I am really looking forward to seeing what wild flowers appear in the spring.

The Old Surrey Downs Project is such a good set up. It has animals grazing at about 15 sites around Surrey and surrounding areas. Britain has about 50% of all the chalk downland sites in the whole of Europe and a lot of those are in or near to Surrey. Their land management using animals to graze various areas, especially the recovering ones, makes so much sense.

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