Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Spring has sprung (they think)

One of the features of this extraordinary Winter is the 'out of season' factor, visible everywhere to those with their eyes open.

My wreck of a garden has still a frozen then soaked rose or two left over from last year, plus flowers on the yellow buddleia, plentiful flowers on the winter jasmine, none yet visible on the red witch hazel which should have some by now.  Everything upside down and confused by the soft mild spell.

Listening yesterday to a pair of robins it was obvious that they were quite convinced it is already Spring.
I fear for the poor little idiots when the inevitable hard frosts begin and they realise their mistake.

A few minutes ago there was a hugely excited racket from a sizeable flock of Long-tailed tits, squabbling and flitting from feeder to feeder in the back garden.  Anyone who is unfamiliar with this lovely little bird should take time to seek out a place where they are common and just watch them for a while.

Truly tiny little bodies of pink and black and white, with very bright dark eyes and tails about three times the length of the body, they are utterly enchanting.

Their behaviour is also unusual in that they live in communes and roost in rows, leaving always the 'unmarried'
aunts and uncles to play nanny to the newly fledged babies.  The parents do the feeding but when it comes to bed-time aunty and uncle are at each end of the row, with mum and dad next to the babies, huddled up to keep warm.

When a flock arrives you are in no doubt who your visitors are, since the racket they create is impossible to ignore.  Designed I suspect to warn off would-be predators.

I'm sure we shall pay for the few days' grace we have had from Winter cold, but it is lovely to see and hear the happy presence of, surely, one of God's greatest creations.

Life would be unthinkable without birds.


  1. I even managed to get out in the garden this morning and do a bit of tree pruning and leaf raking x.

  2. How lovely! We don't have long-tailed tits here. One of the nice things about winter is that the absence of leaves makes the birds easier to watch!

  3. Well done Jane. I have made a start too. We need to grab every chance we get before the frosts.

  4. Lovely they really are Penny. Not just their soft colouring but their tinyness. No, I know there's no such word.
    The impact they make is in direct contrast to their size.

  5. Love the tits but catching up on them fast are the wrens.....tiny little brown twitterers, hopping in and out of the hedgerows...clearly seen at this time of the year!

  6. Yes I know what you mean Jean. There are wrens in next door's garden and they make several forays into my 'restaurant' each day.
    They are even more round than robins. Oh, they're all lovely.

  7. I noticed that darkness didn't settle till about 4.30pm today. A discernible change. On the dark side, there is a forecast for sleet or snow showers in London on Saturday.

  8. Yes. I heard that one too.
    Since I don't live in London I'm hoping it might by-pass us, but probably not.
    We can't get away with it for ever I suppose. Pity!!!

  9. You're so right, Ray. The leaf buds on the honeysuckle in our lane are starting to open and the birds are being distinctly noisy. Yesterday and today must have been a bit of a shock to them - much colder, with frost and some freezing fog and a snow and ice warning for Saturday. Brrr!

  10. It seems a shame doesn't it when flowers bloom too early?
    Lovely though it is to see them, it is almost inevitable that a frost will get them.
    I'm not sure what happens to the birds if they mate too early in the season. I suppose the 'premature' babies have fewer survivals.
    It is still mild here, but not, I fear, for much longer.

  11. my desk on which my computer resides overlooks a neighbours garden at the side of our house. It has a large lilac and a very old apple tree covered in moss. I am loving learning all the new birds over here and spend many a happy coffee break gazing out of the window.

    We too had a mild break last week and I could hear the Chickadee's, very similar in size to blue tits, exchanging their mating calls. Too early I told them but it was lovely to hear them. Spring is on it's way!

  12. Well, I did say we would have to pay for the brief mild spell, and currently we have about minus 7 degrees of frost and snow to come. Brrrrr!
    The poor birds are in for a shock.