By the time I'd opened the door they had flown up in a wild panic and the garden was empty.
I threw the suet out anyway, locked up and had a last look out of the back door before leaving.
To my surprise, I saw a great spotted woodpecker on the peanuts and thought, "surely that can't have caused the sudden panic. Looking for another explanation I saw a brilliant flash of yellow and red and on the buddleia
nearest the door was a green woodpecker, the first I've ever seen close to, and the very first ever in my garden.
Beautiful though he was, I couldn't see why he should be a source of fear, even if he was unfamiliar. Then, at last, my gaze fell on the real culprit.
Drinking from the birds' water bowl was Hercules, the red terror. Decimator of large numbers of local feathered inhabitants.
I had photographed him a month ago on a misty early March morning when I had just poured a kettle of boiling water on the ice in the bird-bath.
Normally I'd have chased him out before he could grab a feathered ' breakfast to go', but felt sorry for him so let him drink first, photographed him, then chased him out.
As a cat, not a predator, he is a large and beautiful animal, but I love my birds and prefer not to fatten them up to provide snacks for the furry terror.
What surprised me this morning was that all the other birds had fled, but the woodpeckers remained, apparently unperturbed. Brave, or stupid?