Creaking and crackling

Flanders Moss NNR

We are having a cold spell of weather here at the moment. A couple of weeks of sub zero temperature, some nights down to -7 or 8 C and a dusting of snow. It transforms that dark, lowering landscape of peat that we have been experiencing before Christmas to a bright, sparkling and crisp one. After some many days of frost the land of water that is Flanders Moss is turning solid with ice. Some people have said that this must make the normally sodden bog slog much easier. But though parts of the moss are hard enough to take your weight not all of it is. So a stroll across the moss means that three steps are on top of the surface but the fourth might result in a crunching slump to calf deep water. Its isn’t a stroll in the park.

And the soundtrack of a walk changes as well. The frozen layer is only inches deep and below that is still between 3 and 7 meters of liquid peat. So the bog still wobbles while the iced top creaks and groans and crackles as you move over it. Its a bit like walking across boiled egg with a broken shell. As you step from one ice plate to another the plates move so setting off cracks and creaks several meters away from where you actually are. As ever these wet peatlands are likely nothing else.

But when the Moss is frozen iron hard you can’t help but think of the wildlife. I have no idea how they manage. Initially it seemed very quiet but as ever, with time more revealled itself.

A peregrine taking a break on a dead tree, conserving energy and soaking up a bit of sun.

A fox headed off across the bog, disturbed from a daytime nap but it no hurry to relocate. (a rubbish photo I know – sorry).

A buzzard taking the easy approach to hunting, waiting on a fence post for something worth eating to wander by underneath.

This sort of weather is always a double edged sword – a pleasure to be out in but it makes work more difficult. It makes it tough for wildlife on the reserves but a good freeze can reduce the midge population of next summer. But as ever we will just take what ever comes our way.

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1 Response to Creaking and crackling

  1. Anne says:

    Beautifully atmospheric photographs – even the fox – and interestingly descriptive.


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