Beyond the dry stone wall that marks the end of my garden there's a big field. I posted a picture of it a few months ago.
In Spring it's full of sheep with their cute, bouncy little lambs. But not in Winter. In Winter, it's full of water. Well not absolutely full, if I'm honest. There's usually a couple of rather large ponds, joined by a thinnish streak of water. From the larger of the two ponds, a stream-like body of water snakes away, only to disappear just before it can tumble over the drive which leads to the farm.
Usually these ponds attract a dozen or more Mallards and their wives. I miss the sheep, but look forward to seeing the ducks every year. But it was rather different this time. When the first pond was still in its infancy, five ducks arrived. Three of them were normal, adult duck size, but two of them looked quite a lot smaller. In fact, had it been Summer, I'd have said they were this year's hatchlings. The idiots decided to spend the night on what, in reality, was no more than a very large puddle. When I went to open the chickens, the ducks had disappeared. I can only hope that it wasn't down some fox's throat!
But I digress.
The small puddle grew rapidly and before long, there were the two familiar ponds. But no ducks. This year, for the first time, there were loads and loads of terns! There's usually four of five of them who fly along the river, two fields away. You frequently see flashes of white through the trees as they zip up and down like demented Scalectrix racing cars. Sometimes they come and sit on the uppermost branches of the dead oak, just to take a breather I suppose. But never in any great numbers.
At least this huge mob were quiet and well-behaved. That's quite a blessing, because 30 or 40 of them could make quite a racket if they all decided to start chatting at once. But no, they just bob around, taking in the view.
This morning, the ponds were frozen solid. One solitary tern sat in the oak, all on his ownsome, looking very folorn. Maybe he thought that if he wished hard enough, the ice would melt and he could float around in solitary splendour. In the end, he gave up and flew off to join his mates.
The weather forecast for the coming week is for mild weather for the time of year. If the Met Office has managed to get it right for once, the pond will return to its former watery glory. It will be interesting to see who gets there first - the ducks or the terns.
This is going to be my last post for this year. So the chickens and I wish you a very happy Christmas, and may the New Year be all you want it to be. With very best wishes from Fizz, Pom-Pom, Mad Irene, Titian, Tu-Tu, Maggie, Rebecca, Punk and me.