Winter's over

The cranes flew over the Pyrenees today on their way north so winter is over - the winter 'that was to be the worst since records began'. Now El Nino has returned which means that we in western Europe will have the hottest summer with widespread drought 'since records began'. I think they are wrong as the onions hanging up in the potting shed are slightly damp which means we are in for a wet summer. What do you use to predict the weather?

We were sitting outside at our locak cafe yesterday morning in 17c ,last night i went out with the dogs at 11.30pm and it was white over with snow and still falling this morning a good scattering but thawing slowly later still plenty on the mountain looks lovely through the kitchen window but would prefer it long gone

Well, we are somewhat behind here in northern Brittany...the winter jasmine is still flowering, the crocuses, snow drops and he camerlias are in full bloom. Last year we had very heavy snow falls in March, so who know what to expect?

At 600 metres we are always a little behind but the primrose are out the Hortensia are growing fast one of the chickens was adamant she was going broody stopped her during January but gave in later they have all hatched on the 14 Feb and going strong, spring really has arrived here in the Tarn, obviously not on the flight path of the Cranes or Geese pity would love to see them ,need to keep a look out now for hawks else chicks will be an early lunch

ENSO is neutral at the moment, Neil - no El Nino yet awhile...

The forecast seems to change every day - literally. I'm just enjoying this little bit of Spring.

We had the biggest number of cranes so far this year right overhead. I think there must have been a couple of thermals because they were circling too. It was just one group after another. Hundreds of them.

Vic, how can he be? Doesn't have the hairstyle.

Here is my personal long-range forecast for 2014

The weather will be unpredictable......!

We had a group of magpies take over three crows nests-they are getting more agressive against other birds as well.

There was a brilliant stand off outside a few minutes ago. A sparrowhawk sat in the cherry tree just in front, down at the bottom of the field in a row of trees eight magpies gradually grouped together. When they were all together they 'charged' making one heck of a row and went for the tree. Sparrowhawks are not big enough to hunt magpies so I guess it is a territorial thing, I have often watched rooks ganging up on the kites and buzzards to get them to bu**er off. This though was brilliant, watching the magpies get ready then adopt a strategy and so on, and they say 'bird brained' for people not as bright as others!

Ditto on the birds of prey, suggesting lots of prey up and about in this valley too. The woodpeckers are all back at Universal Studios rehearsing 'Aha, ha ha-hah...' for the coming season, obvious ;-)

Who needs UK TV? We saw our first cranes last year on 3rd of March so a bit earlier this year. We have black redstarts here. And where do the green woodpeckers all go in the winter? Not so many kites and buzzards this year but they have started their aerial displays over the valley.

The geese kept coming in occasional formations until I was asleep, perhaps all night but quiet now. The cranes I saw were perhaps 40 too. I have been kept away a lot of the night about 10 days ago with a couple of barn owls fighting for nesting territories. Our redstarts are back to begin building their nest in our barns. I often brush our long haired GSD as I walk and leave the hair in blackthorn bushes. Birds, including crows, are collecting it so a sure sign they are already preparing for when it is warm enough to lay.

Like you Carolyn, I just look. Even if the geese are coming for hours on end I can be rushing in and out every time I hear a big flock. I also wish I knew why it is so mesmerising. Perhaps it is too late in life to really think about that after so long, just continue to be amazed by it all.

I am just a few miles west of you Neil in Nassiet. I was surprised to see the first cranes fly right overhead yesterday. Last year I got my son's telescope out and saw even more higher up - hundreds at a time.

I think we might have the same crew of pigeons as you - I thought they were starlings - but they have performed for us in enormous numbers every evening pretty much all winter. I spend a lot of time just looking. Why is it so mesmerising?

Four large formations og cranes but no geese. We have had huge flocks og pigeons this winter with great earial displays of aerobatics. lots of owls hooting up and down the valleys and the sparrows are very frisky. Shorts will be on the ironing board soon!

Hazel switches, pussy willows, forsythia, winter jasmine and gorse have all been and gone here already, winter cherry has been open for 10 days though.

If winter is over then spring must be here? To me, hearing the first cuckoo means spring is signs yet. This is Brittany by the way. I must say I would have loved to have seen the Cranes, pure magic indeed. Back to drying my sockies.

The forsythia is already out on the roadside to Macon, we are at 420 metres and ours is till in bud.

They kept coming, wave after wave for over an hour. Pure magic.

Foie gras by air mail to boot ;-)

There was me writing about the geese five minutes ago. We all dashed out a couple of minutes ago because the sound was deafening. I have never seen such big Vs and as many of them as just passed. At a guess there were well over 1000 geese in sight. I turned my back and one daughter told me to look, there was a large group of cranes following the geese. Neil, I think I am now convinced.

Pity about the weather forecast for the next couple of weeks though, not gardening weather! :-(