Despite the grey weather, the light is holding steadier into the evening while the birds seem to have gained a spritely energy, and many have begun to fill the air with their song. The robins who kept us entertained with their solos during the darker months when all other birds went quiet, now sing from the branches in the garden; a faint outline of their red breast visible on a small silhouette as they sing in the unclear light of the end of day. Several robins are visiting the garden at present. One flits onto its twiggy throne and surveys the area this little creature thinks of as its own; another arrives and they soon become twisted in a game of tag, in a less friendly way than when it is played by children, and their small bodies dart across the garden then vanish over the fence as the chase continues into another’s abode.
It could be thought that the singing of robins doesn’t mean spring has arrived, due to their love of serenading by streetlights, but when the other garden birds begin to think it is a good idea to get some practise in you know the depths of winter are being left behind. I awoke the other morning to the sound of a great tit shouting ‘teacher-teacher’ from close to the window – what better way to start the day then being woken by a natural alarm clock. The dunnocks too are becoming lively, with a mini gang visiting the garden. It is lovely to open the window and hear the sound of the dunnock’s song, which I like to think has a somewhat bubbling quality to it. Upon a morning the great spotted woodpecker too has started to drum on the trees, perhaps he is in amongst those I can see in the distance surrounding the farmer’s field for I rarely see this species in the garden. On the other hand the green woodpecker has become a regular garden visitor and its sinister laughter makes you take notice when you least expect it. This species, despite its ‘strange’ laugh, is hardly menacing but in fact is a glorious British bird.
There is a charm of goldfinches which regularly visit the garden too, flying straight for the sunflower heart feeder. They all sit on a perch each, their patch of bright yellow plumage and red face making you think of the coming colourful flowers of spring, while the coal tits wait in the trees rather annoyed the feeder is being monopolised. Whenever I am out walking there seems to be a certain tinkling note which the goldfinch makes that pricks my ears, when I look up sure enough one flies over my head; a delightful paradise in the grey skies.
A certain road I regularly walk down is always filled with the chirping of house sparrows and the whistling of starlings; the first inches away from me in the bushes and the latter always high up on the TV aerials. Walking along the road an oak breaks up the man-made footpaths, its branches twisted and gnarled, shrouding the clarity of the sky above. Sometimes I see a song thrush foraging on the exposed muddied verge, its brown golden plumage and speckled chest delightful to behold. I haven’t seen him lately, but was pleased when I heard the notes from this famous songbird being sung from a vantage point in the sporadic trees somewhere. The base of the song bird orchestra, the blackbird, has however thus far resisted providing the warming serenade of its full song so spring has not yet arrived, but their presence is unmistakeable in the ‘chinking’ bonanza when the light is being taken from the evening.
Although the weather is still cold; the days often filled with that faint winter drizzle and the trees unadorned with leaves; the birds are the greatest signs of the coming wonders spring has to offer – a time of migrant birds and of flowering riches.