The birds got it wrong, didn’t they. There they were, all optimistic and full of song and now winter has returned with a vengeance. It isn’t snowing here any longer, but it hasn’t melted and the ground is frozen solid. No worms for the ‘early bird’ to catch at the moment. A week or so ago, the soil temperature was around 5C, now it is back to just above 0C.
I am about as weary of this winter as a person can be and the wildlife must feel the same, though at least I can come inside and get warm. It would be easy to stay in front of the fire, but it is clear that the water in the dishes outside is frozen and they need refilling. As far as the wildlife experience it, frozen water is the same as a drought. They will need more food putting out too, fatty stuff that will give them the energy they need to get through this cold spell.
The wind outside is bitterly cold, but thinking of the birds and small mammals who are exposed to it induces an uncomfortable feeling of guilt and I am duty-bound, simply because I can, to put out food and water for them. The hanging feeder in the Magnolia tree is duly topped up with a wild bird seed mix. Sparrows, robins, chaffinches and bluetits are the most regular visitors. I can hear sparrows squabbling in next door’s garden and expect they will soon be coming to investigate.
Half a coconut shell filled with fat and seeds is pegged down under the tree. Pegging it down stops big birds like crows or jackdaws flying off with it. As well as hanging a coconut feeder in the tree, we’ve started putting one on the ground, after seeing a blackbird repeatedly flapping up to the one in the tree, trying to get at the fat, probably expending more energy in the flapping than it was getting from the food. There you go, that feeling of responsibility again.
More seed is scattered in a few spots under the tree so that ground feeding birds and any mice about can find it. As I’m refilling the water dishes, I see that the ever present male blackbird has come straight over for the seed on the ground, so I say hello to him. Naturally enough, he ignores me and tucks in straight away. I don’t know why I like that blackbird, I just do and I’m glad to see he’s looking healthy.