shelter

The weather forecast was accurate and overnight on Thursday the snow tiptoed in on cat-like feet, silent, soft but with underlying cruelty. It continued all day, fine flakes blown sharply on a biting wind, piling up in corners, swirling around barriers, dancing off the roof in a cascade of ice crystals.

redwing-hedge

Redwing foraging under beech hedge

All day the garden was filled with the flurry of little wings, birds flying to the bird table from wherever they could find shelter. It was a pity that it was not garden Birdwatch Day as Blue Tits, Great Tits, Long Tail Tits, Marsh Tits, Coal Tits, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Robin,Wren, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Bullfinch, Jay,Magpie,Kestrel,Crow,Jackdaw, Pheasant, Song Thrush and Redwing all put in an appearance at some point.

Many of the larger birds just forage around the edges of the garden or across the lawn while most of  the smaller ones tend to use the bird feeders. The little thrushes and the wrens prefer to hunt under the hedges, vigorously turning over the fallen leaves in search of insects and other small creatures.

Today was the first time we have noticed Redwings in the garden, the smallest of the European thrushes and mainly winter visitors in the UK. At first I saw only one, but after a few minutes I could see several dispersed under the beech  hedge, all busily looking for food. It was a timely reminder of the value of a hedge for birdlife and there is an interesting article on the RSPB site here.

Now I am hoping for  a good attendance on Garden Birdwatch Day over the weekend of 26-27 January 2013, although I am not anxious for a repeat snowfall! I hope you are all tucked up warm and the birds in your gardens are bringing you enjoyment.

spring walks on frozen feet

We walked yesterday, just a short walk from the front door, to get some fresh air after a week of stuffiness. It has been so cold here and as I mentioned last time, the ice on the pond has been thick and prolonged, and snow has fallen too.

As we walked, we were treated to a glimpse of a Great Spotted woodpecker, hammering his breakfast hunting song from the top of an oak tree. I have had them in the garden on the feeders in the last week but it is always great to hear their characteristic drumming sound as they drill into wood. A little further we thrilled to the sound of water rushing and tumbling over the stones in the brook. Icicles hung from the banks, but drips of water were falling steadily from them into the headlong stream. A little further, we found clumps of snowdrops freed from their blanket of fallen snow, clean and crisp against the hedge.

In the garden I took these pictures before they vanished. It will be less cold this week-good news for the birds, but the cat who strolled across the pond will have to look out!

There is a painting on the other blog too. Just click here.