Sitting in the caravan, it rocks, shakes and creaks as the wind rushes past and barges into its thin, slab-like walls. The two old oak trees above are tormented by the gusts and their leaves are bent back, together forming sails against which their branches fight to keep their form. In the sodden meadows, the long grasses are buffeted with the movement of waves at sea. The river is rising and the flow has more purpose, sliding with weight past the muddy banks. The pillars of the narrow concrete footbridge catch the passing debris, building up as the water is momentarily obstructed in its path. A surge of large-dropped rain clatters onto the roof of the my little haven, immediately turning the windows into a myriad of streams. It’s not cold but the clinging dampness keeps my jumper on but my shorts might have been a bit of a mistake. The sparrows don’t mind the weather, chattering in their little parliaments on the ivy-topped stone walls. The cows shelter beneath the bows of oaks while the swallows skip low across the fields, avoiding the worst of the gusts. At the top of the fir tree in the little copse across the wet grass, the nest sits empty, swaying as the storm. The ospreys, both adults and young, have retreated to the lower limbs of neighbouring trees. Has autumn come early to the Glaslyn valley?
My first and probably only shift of the osprey summer was met with very unseasonal wind and heavy rain, more like autumn or late winter. I had just a peak into the osprey world this year, with only a month or so before they leave for Africa. I’ve missed the adults arriving and the eggs being laid, I’ve missed the night shifts during incubation and the hatching of the chicks, and I’ve missed them growing and finally fledging. After the loss of one chick, it was good to see the remaining two looking so healthy, if a little damp and windblown. With the exception of the weather, the shift was rather unremarkable, with fish delivered later in my stay and the birds spending most of time away from the nest, sheltering under the trees.
My summer has been very different this year, spending three months away, but it’s nice to return to some of my usual haunts before the autumn really arrives. The summer has gone so quickly after seeming to take such a long time to arrive. Hopefully there will be some more warmth and sunshine to come.