The rooks are back at their nests in the village; a sure sign the year has turned. There are only a few and they’re not yet repairing nests. They sit around calling and generally look as though they’re deep in conversation. The ability to hear a rookery from home is something special and one of the defining sounds of the British countryside, which I cherish greatly.
Crocuses are well on their way and the first shoots of daffodils are beginning to show. A neighbour’s garden shines with the brilliant yellow of witch hazel, and catkins hang from the willows on the common. In contrast to these signs of spring, redwings are still spread out over the playing fields, some on the fenced-off cricket square, whilst roosting winter plumage black-headed gulls wait for the distant tide to recede. A dead wren on the garden path is a sign that winter has yet to take its final toll. Perfect, and with no sign of damage, this beautiful little creature probably met its end during the frosty night.
There are few greenfinches around; there have been none at the garden feeders for a long time. Like several species of finches, they tend to suffer from a parasite and their numbers were seriously reduced in 2005 as a result of this; maybe they have still not fully recovered. Goldfinches continue to delight in the garden, and a flock of long-tailed tits pops in for a short while each day - they don't stay long, adorning the peanut feeders for just a few minutes before moving on. Tit numbers are definitely down, and even though I kept the feeders well stocked during the snow, I'm beginning to believe that they've suffered badly. Nuthatches and great-spotted woodpeckers are absent too, but all will be revealed when the results of the BTO Breeding Bird Survey are published.