Country diary: life amid the icicles

Country diary: life amid the icicles

Eyebrook reservoir and Great Merrible Wood, Rutland: Hidden beneath the bark, creatures are sheltering from the freezing weather

A bitter wind blows up the 2km of icy brown water, shaping a dense row of tapered icicles along an overhanging fence and freezing water around the shore pebbles. Swans, geese and hundreds of ducks have been pushed up into the most north-western point of Eyebrook reservoir. Widgeon – sporting coiffured ginger mohicans – drift in little flotillas, energetically feeding in the shallow water. A quivering black rapier pointing to the grey sky flags a dabbling pintail; over its head a smaller duck darts, flashing a broad greenish blue panel in each wing – the original teal. It is a rare, lustrous and metallic display that must have been otherworldly to early humans.

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