Our garden has been alive with activity this morning. First there were the redwings – Scandinavian birds who don’t visit us for long, but show up when there is cold weather (which there is). In our neighbours’ garden there is a large shrub, covered in red berries. It hangs over into our garden, which means we get a great view of the birds when they land in it.
The redwings hung around long enough today that I had time to run and fetch my camera, and I took pictures of them from the bedroom window for a while (wishing I had cleaned the windows more recently so that my pictures would have been a bit sharper). This photo is from a few days ago, when one landed on our lawn.
After the redwings flew off, I heard a bit of noise outside and so went to the same window to have a look. Quite a few birds were squawking, and flying across our garden from east to west. It soon became clear why: a male sparrowhawk flew right across the garden. He flew low, close to the fences and passing right by a couple of our birdfeeders. I saw him fly into a tree a few gardens down, where he perched for a minute or two before flying away. Whenever a sparrowhawk has passed through the garden, it’s always quiet for a few minutes – I think the smaller birds go quiet and try to remain hidden in case there is a return visit.
Little by little the birds started to return, and again I heard noise. This time it was a local cat, chasing squirrels. Luckily there were three squirrels, and they seemed rather better organised than the cat, taunting him from a tree they had climbed.
Of course there is a reason for all this activity: this weekend is the annual RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, an event we have taken part in every year since we first had a garden of our own. We’ve found in previous years that as soon as we sit down to do the birdwatch, all the birds that regularly visit our garden disappear. So I rather suspect that the birds are being busy today so that they can hide for the rest of the weekend and avoid being counted.