Stepping Out: That’s the way the walking goes and out pops a weasel

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Sunday morning was bright but bitterly cold. After scraping and defrosting the car and a short but careful drive brought me to Langsett. Here conditions were even more wintry with several inches of snow lying on the ground.

Setting off down one of the tracks I soon found my way blocked by a tractor. A couple of hard working farmers were unloading huge bales of hay. A large flock of sheep was gathered around very much in need of the extra winter feed.

As I walked on I discovered that there is a clearance of conifer trees underway around Langsett reservoir. There is a very good reason for this. Conifers do not support as much wildlife as native deciduous trees such as oak. By reducing the number of conifers the hope is to attract rare birds like nightjars into the area.

As I walked on it was heavy going underfoot and at various stages I was ploughing through snow. It was with some relief that the path headed into woodland where the ground was relatively snow free.

One of the best things about winter walking is just how visible the wildlife can be. Robins in particular were very confiding flying from branch to branch almost within touching distance. It is no wonder that they are such a popular bird appearing as a favourite on Christmas cards.

The highlight of my walk was still to come. As I headed back towards the car I spotted a small dark shadow beneath a hedgerow. What I initially took to be a blackbird suddenly raced across the ground at high speed. I could not remember the last time I spotted a weasel. That fleeting view made all the effort of defrosting the car suddenly feel very worthwhile.