When I was a little girl, my father would take me on long walks down winding country lanes. Every so often he would stop and point to a tree and show me a bird and tell me its name. I would ask him how he knew that the tiny bird was there on the tree? He would simply say “I heard it singing!” I was both enthralled and captivated – it was like a magic trick – to hear a bird, know which branch of what tree it perched upon and to be able to name it too all from its burst of song. My father taught me to love all creatures, to watch them and treasure them and to know that it is a gift to both hear them and see them.
It is now January of a new year but this year we are bereft of birds. Gone are the vast numbers of sparrows and starlings. Gone are the garden visitors the cheeky finches and the sweet tits. Every garden should have its own blackbird and robin, these are both territorial birds and they are noisy in their declarations of which gardens they have chosen to be their homes. Where has our blackbird and robin gone? Not a sign of either bird in this dawn of a new year can be seen.
We have one or two crows, an odd magpie, wood pigeon and ring neck dove. All of these are considered to be large birds. It is worrying to consider that none of the small and medium birds appear to be around. The fat balls hang like remnants from a bygone time in a museum. Even the squirrels have left the nuts alone and the bird seeds have begun to sprout!
Our Carrion Crow - Corvus corone (note the crows in our area often have a little bit of white on their tail or wing feathers) .. you may just about be able to see the lighter spot on this one’s tail feathers.