It is a bit of a big freeze here in Canada at the moment with -25°C predicted and pretty cold days with lows near -20°C, cold enough that your nose hair freezes in seconds and even well wrapped extremities start to feel detached after a short while out in it but we still go out to do what we have to do and life continues unhindered. Now let us share a thought for parts of Great Britain, currently languishing under nearly 5cm of snow which has closed most schools and stranded motorists, poor buggers. Those living in the north of the country are not so fussed and deal with it but get into the soft underbelly, say south of Rotherham, and it all goes pear-shaped.
Not so long ago that island nation were not daunted by anything. Far flung places ruled by head-hunters and fierce natives, no problem, give them trousers and teach them to make toast. Towering peaks or barren landscapes there for the conquering, put me down for some of that although I may be gone for a while. Bullies and aggressors picking on our friends, well, you pick on them and you pick on us to and you won’t like us when we are angry, that was always the way. So when did they become a nation that allows a bit of snow to become news? I’ll tell you, when a bored clerk somewhere invented the phrase ‘Health & Safety’ allowing the Mice amongst Men and Women to pass the buck without shame.
It is easy to look at them over there and laugh at their headless Chicken reaction but the truth of it is that they are not used to it. Canada has a winter, every year, just like clockwork. The original settlers knew it and prepared for it which is why no Canadian born of generations of Canadians can walk past a pile of cut firewood without feeling the urge to stack it. The people who plough the roads here do it every year and we even have people who we contract to clear our drives with tractors, we call them snow contractors! In southern Britain they are simply not ready and it if you don’t believe me here are two true stories.
In a past life I was a truck mechanic and I worked for Nottingham City Council at the depot where we kept the gritters. One morning in 1981 it started to snow and kept snowing. By tea time the entire city was gridlocked and nothing could get in or out of the depot because of the traffic, including the gritters. I worked 24 hours solid and it took two full days before the roads were anything like gritted and all because the guys who drove the gritters (as overtime) were out doing their normal jobs when the snow started and the management didn’t have the sense to call them in.
On another occasion the snow came down, the call to go out came and the gritters stood idle, the guy whose job is was to order the rock salt hadn’t and we couldn’t get some from neighbouring councils because of the roads and no, he wasn’t fired. I would bet that a similar scenario has happened up and down the country because, in parts of the UK, winter is always a surprise.
Anyway, back to the birds. I’ve not been too active with the camera of late, tied up with other things, but I thought I’d post a set of photos of mixed quality (and quite probably in random order) which have a snow related theme. I’ll put the relationship in at the end after the photos, see if you get it.
The obvious are Snowy Owl and Snow Bunting, Snow Goose and Snowy Egret. Snowcap and Snowy-bellied Hummingbird just about qualify and Iceland Gull is not unreasonable at a stretch. How about Jack Frost though, in the shape of Jack Snipe and Jackdaw. Finally, what we all are in this weather, Northern Shovelers!