I finally decided it's time to feed the birds, despite the four cats (only one of which has shown any hunting prowess in the past year and that was with mice). The snow's been lying for four days, the ground is frozen and flakes are still fluttering down intermittently.
Using bamboo canes, I managed to rig up a wigwam in the middle of the garden and wedge a plastic tray of seeds and raisins in the top. Any feeding birds should be safe from the cats while they perch on it at least. The RSPB is now predicting a major impact on bird populations and urging people to put out food in their gardens so I hope I've done the right thing.
BBC news online has a few stories about wildlife struggling to cope with the long freeze. Apparently many aquatic animals and birds congregate around power station outlets in rivers to keep warm - including hundreds of manatees in Florida. Fish-eating birds such as bitterns and kingfishers are really struggling as most open water is covered by thick ice. We may see kingfishers turning up in warmer urban areas.
I'm not generally a big fan of zoos, but I was amused to read that meerkats are cuddling up with anteaters in their enclosure at London Zoo and have discovered that they can get closer to the heaters by sleeping on top of them.
Yesterday we came across a homeless man begging in a doorway on the high street. He'd been unable to find a bed in a hostel for the past few nights and was sleeping in a shed on an allotment, burning a calor gas cylinder to keep from freezing - now his gas had run out. After buying him a cup of tea and some biscuits, I decided to call at a church on the way home, thinking someone might be able to help him. While I was talking to the minister, he asked me if the guy standing behind me in the doorway was the rough sleeper in question - my partner! Lol! After the embarrassment died down, the minister promised to go and talk to the real homeless guy and thought he could find him somewhere for a night or two, although our town (not so far from London) has no real provision for rough sleepers.