New property, new tenants …
The old nest box finally surrendered to the ravages of time last spring; but not before it had served as incubator and first home for one final clutch of young blue tits. It was a close run thing though: by the time the last of the young blueys had fledged we could see movement inside the box through an ever-widening crack in the front panel. All of which means that this year’s prospective homemakers get to view a brand new property, and the first few enquiries arrived this week.
I stood, like some avian estate agent, furtively watching the comings and goings from the bedroom window, hoping they’d like the feel of the place and it would suit their needs. Oddly there were three birds flitting between the new box and the neighbouring trees; so either there is still some jockeying for position to be done, or one of the visitors is just helping the other two to move in.
Picture: The very last days of the old nest box. It had served us, and generations of tenants, wonderfully well.
Colour and contrast
There was no mistaking the direction of the overnight, snow bearing, wind. Every single one of the tall pines along the southern edge of the wood carried a perfectly applied strip of white crystals.
On a day when the world seemed to have been rendered in monochrome there were sudden and diverting splashes of colour: the old GPO phone box; a passenger service, heading for Worcester, still carrying the apple green/canary yellow livery of the departed and unlamented Central Trains.
Wildlife activity was plentiful; optimising the daylight hours which would be brief, and feeding opportunities which would be meagre. A solitary buzzard flapped almost resentfully; struggling to get airborne, lacking the assistance of breeze or updraught. Carrion would be in short supply, competition fierce. The icicles in the railway cutting suggested that lives lived in the sheltered hollows and recesses would be no less punishing.
(More than) a touch of frost
Not quite ready to confront things which needed to be confronted – dismantling decorations, the impending return to what passes for gainful employment – we decided to keep our heads buried in sand for just a little longer by taking to the lanes, fields and woods within easy reach of home. And, having got out, stayed out for more time than we really had available; willing conspirators needing no coercion.
These frosts have been like the frosts of mis-spent adolescence; the ones which turned Sunday league pitches to corrugated concrete, and the concept of playing football in gloves was considered dubious even for goalkeepers.
Blue skies. Watery sun, surprisingly warming. Boot-prints temporarily fossilised; some so clearly defined that even the lozenge shaped indentation bearing the word ‘Vibram’ was easily distinguishable.
In the end it was hunger, rather than any new-found sense of responsibility, which prompted us to turn for home.