February 05, 2012

Footprints

After record low temperatures for night after night, finally a little snow, and immediately things warm up. It's been strange: -11 at night, a biting wind but very dry and no frost. As soon as the snow began to fall the wind dropped and it got a little warmer. Now the snow is melting, although it will probably refreeze tonight.

On Tooting Common crows patrolled the areas of snowmelt under the dripping trees, and parakeets screamed from the black branches. We heard a blue tit calling like a squeaky wheel, and there were reports of a woodpecker high in a poplar – though all we could see were half a dozen starlings all facing in the same direction.

And everywhere, footprints. Dogs of all sizes, mostly, and birds – gulls, pigeons and crows – but here and there we also saw the neat, oval prints of a fox: on the way to the common they led under or between railings and hugged the sides of buildings; on the common itself they made little chains leading directly from cover to cover. Scent lingers longer in the snow, and Scout stuck her nose right into each padmark, inhaling, analysing, inhaling.