tip toes

Saturday here was glorious, Sunday returned to winter and today has been Spring again. We spent the Spring like days in the garden, enjoying the sunshine and joyful carolling of  birdsong. This is a garden where a Song Thrush entertains  us at dawn and for Evensong, a rich, honeyed sound capturing the promise of Spring. Over the river someone has a peacock. It has started calling loudly and I am glad it is half a mile away,  and that the Thrush features so much more in our sound scape.

While we have been  working, Lofty the beautiful if slightly pesky pheasant who decorates the garden has been drifting about. Lofty hasn’t much of a voice. A sort of chickeny chirrup mostly and an angry rattle if he is startled. Easier to live with than the peacock. He has spent his life being fed by people, having been  reared on the shooting estate and now a permanent guest at our bird table, a survivor of 7 months of shooting. Amusingly, he stands under the feeder where the suet balls are and jumps inelegantly to reach them, if the Blue Tits haven’t spilled enough crumbs for him. He is a little too fond of flower petals for my liking, but perhaps he is toughening me up for the impending arrival of our three point of lay chickens?  I wonder how he is going to cope with them and how will they react to him?

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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 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.