12 April 2010

After the snow 2

Now that we are suddenly having warm, sunny days that seem like summer, it is hard to remember that only 10 days ago I was cross-country skiing on the hills just half an hour's drive from our house.

When I wrote the previous entry entitled "After the snow," I didn't imagine that we would have so much more cold weather with plenty more snow although we mostly had to travel short distances to get to it. I spent so many days cross-country skiing that other things, such as keeping up this blog, got left behind.

Towards the end of February I visited Loch Lomond twice. Large parts of it were frozen, and this picture was taken on 21st February at Balmaha on the east shore.

Two days later, after a day's hill walking, we stopped off at Loch Lomond Shores at the south end of the loch. Here, too, the loch was largely frozen, though there was little snow on Ben Lomond in the background.

The Fintry Loup is a large waterfall in the River Endrick, and I visited it when it was still partly frozen. The amount of water coming down was considerably less than usual, not only because of the ice, but also because we had so little rainfall.

On 24th February more snow fell, and two days later we went skiing at the Queen's View by the road to Drymen. Unfortunately, further up the hill the snow was not only very deep but a hard crust had formed on it which we continually broke through, making skiing very difficult and tiring.

Better conditions followed and we had several magnificent days of skiing in the Carron Valley Forest. The hill in the distance is Meikle Bin.

The Carron Valley Reservoir, like almost every other area of water, was completely frozen.

In some places it was hard to tell where the land ended and the water began.

Although it appears that the ice is melting in the picture below, it was only surface water, and when we visited again a few days later the surface was once again solid ice.

The continuing cold weather produced many more ice spikes in our garden, especially after I discovered that using de-ionised water greatly increased the likelihood of spikes developing. This double spike appeared on 31st January.

Another strange phenomenon, which I began to see with increasing frequency on lochs and reservoirs which had been frozen for some time, was large stars forming in the surface of the ice.

There is an article about this in the Physical Review, published by the American Physical Society.

While the cold weather lasted, we continued to be visited by large flocks of redpolls. The largest count I made was 84 on 5th February. The numbers dropped off as the weather became milder, though a pair of redpolls was still present last week.

Now, by contrast, we have warm, sunny weather. There are new flower species coming out every day, and they are catching up fast.

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