The birds have either moved or are on the move; whether they’ve relocated to a more sheltered spot just around the corner or upped sticks for a winter in Senegal, they’re no longer to be found where they were last time we looked. Places which were hotbeds of activity just a few weeks ago are eerily quiet. It’s as if there was a close season on certain parts of the heath and among particular types of vegetation. It was the same a year ago.
Elsewhere, in the woods in particular, familiar haunts are being reoccupied; and by the same species, possibly the very same individuals, we would see there as last winter approached. The mixed flock of long-tailed, blue and great tits moving through and around the same tight cluster of trees, when there are thousands of others to choose from; suggesting that there is something to their liking in the vicinity of those particular branches at this time in the natural cycle. The long-tailed tits in particular seem to be in a state of constant movement, probably less random and more structured than it appears to the human eye; like animated and colourful shuttlecocks. The single goldcrest which was their habitual companion twelve months past is yet to reappear; in so far as it’s possible to be certain where something as small and mobile as a goldcrest is concerned.
The ravens, last seen and heard around Easter time, are back and making their presence felt; they appear to have a regular beat, a favoured side of the hills, and to have returned to it. No blackcaps or bullfinches as yet, but it would be a strange winter without them.
So we get to enjoy someone else’s birds for a while, and ours provide variety and entertainment – hopefully in exchange for hospitality – elsewhere. It’s a good arrangement.