A couple centimetres of snow this morning. Funny how that completely changes the dynamic of the bird interactions at our feeders. As a rule each species tends to keep a respectful distance from each other. The sparrows are a boisterous lot and are generally a bit much for the blue tits. But then the robins usually see off the sparrows, and pretty much anyone else. Today, particularly on the table where we put old apples and bird seed, they were all piling in, the need for food taking precedence over any kind of hierarchy.

Unusually, a small flock of goldfinches came and fed on the seed heads of the winter savoury in our herb bed. We often see them in the top of our walnut tree but I’ve never see them so close to the house before. Such an attractive bird.

Temperatures climbed marginally above zero promptly so the snow started to melt quite early. Off we went for a walk while it still looked good. We found roe deer tracks in the snow. Eventually spotted one in a belt of oak trees. In a nearby cider orchard flocks of starlings, fieldfares and blackbirds were noisily feeding on the few remaining apples on the ground.

By the time we were walking back much of the snow on the lanes had melted. Glad we grabbed the moment.

Work/eat/sleep and repeat. That’s what the last two weeks have felt like. It’s always like this for these darkest weeks of the year. There have been a few sunny days, or part days, but also a lot of murk. Days without form or void.

I don’t much like driving at this time of year. Dazzling headlights, spray and poor visibility make it hard work. An hour’s drive in thick fog on Monday was not fun at all.

What I have enjoyed are the calls of birds. Often I can’t see them, particularly at dawn or dusk. Fieldfares, redwings and siskins calling overhead. This morning, while walking our dog, I heard the mournful call of a bullfinch. Or now and again on brighter days a blackbird indulging in its quiet winter sub-song.

It might feel like a bit of an interminable slog at the moment but I do appreciate hearing nature still doing its thing.

One morning this last week I stepped outside at first light. It was very still and quiet. My attention was drawn to the sound of redwings overhead. The first I’ve seen this autumn. Just a few small flocks but a sure sign of the turning of the seasons. Later on the same day I saw a handful of swallows. Another remnant of summer. Two species who’s combined migratory range extends from Siberia to South Africa.

It’s strange how a sight or sound can be so evocative of a particular season that in a single day two separate moments can feel like completely different times of year.

If I’m honest, I have to admit that part of the reason I will listen to so many podcasts is so I don’t have to listen to the stream of negative horseshit that my mind seems to produce if left to its own devices. Something to work on there, methinks.


In the last two days I’ve seen and/or heard kingfishers in two different locations. They do seem to get very vocal at this time of year. Not sure why. Such an amazing bird.

Was awake in the night due to the heat. Heard a curious sound outside. A repeated wheezing call. A bit of research and discovered it was the begging call of juvenile tawny owls. I think there must have been two of them. Good to know ‘our’ tawny’s have successfully reared young this year.