Monday, 9 February 2009

Snow stops the Long-eared owl survey

Just spent the weekend on Mendip Hills. Only just got there, were as the Snow was melting here in Portishead, but on Mendip you may as well been on a different planet. The picture below is the after affects of Thursday 5th Feb blizzard, the drift in this Mendip lane is measured at around 5 foot.
With the landscape transformed, many species of bird seemed to move out from these top areas, but predators like Kestrel Buzzard, and Owls such as Tawny and Barn were falling victim to the conditions. However some were surviving and good to hear story's from one such Mendip farm, were by Barn owls and even Little Owls were holding on, indeed this farm still one week afterwards has got a lot of Snow still lying in the fields.

Above is a Rabbit hole, which was buried under Snow however within 24hours you can see the Rabbits are back in action and judging by the tracks leading away from the hole managing to get by. Below is the view looking towards the Velvet Bottom (Somerset Wildlife Trust reserve) gate.
Walking in the Snow along this path was really quite tiring as in places on the footpath it was 2 foot deep, I really needed the Swedish Snow shoes for this walk!

The contrast of light at sunset was stunning, from the fire of the sunset sky, to the almost Artic looking scenery of the open top of the Mendip Hills
In the picture below its not Snowing, this is in fact Snow being blown around by the bitter north easterly wind, this is what was causing some of the major drifting. On the night of the 7 th of February this areas night time temperature went down to -10C, this due mainly to the wind chill factor.
And finally below is St Hugh's Church at Charterhouse, this a wonderful Swiss looking Church, always gets lots of photographs taken of it.
Well I must have taken around 500 pictures of the Snow, now I have not got the time to process them all, so this is just a selection. This weekend should have seen the start of the Long-eared Owl surveys. Yet one week on the deep snow still causes problems, so I have had to cancel both survey nights on Quantock and Mendip. A thaw is in place, yet during the evenings it freezes again.
Hopefully this is last of the Snow, and the surveying can begin next weekend. Once we have started any early results will be published here on this blog.


Gill said...

Great photos Chris.

Chris Sperring said...

Thanks Gill. See you and Batman on the LEO surveys