A Walk And Other Things

It was bitterly cold but sunny first thing yesterday morning, but after a couple of hours the air had warmed up enough to tempt me out. I was due a walk anyway, having not even left the house the previous day.

Every year there is a point somewhere around the middle of February when I feel the warmth of the sun for the first time that year, but yesterday morning there was already a hint of that.

It wasn’t cold enough to freeze the ground, except in a few particularly exposed places, and so it was very muddy underfoot. Therefore it was a delight to occasionally walk through drifts of last years leaves.

And there was so much birdsong. So much so that it became a background noise that was easy to filter out after a while, except when a particularly loud or unusual song caught my attention. Not that I do that deliberately, since birdsong is one of the delights of the countryside. At some point or another when I’m out, I can usually hear the rooks, but maybe because of the sun and the noise from the other birds they seemed to be silent. I’ve always associated them with cloudy skies for some reason, perhaps because I’m so used to hearing them on moorland and in the hills and mountains.

But I’m sure they like a sunny day every bit as much as the next bird.

This morning is cloudy again and the rooks are back. Outside I hear crark crark crark, and the occasional cronk. There is rain and sleet forecast for later, so I go into town in the morning. By the time I get home, the sky is already full of dark clouds and threatening to drop some weather soon.

The afternoon, then. I partly spent painting this little fellow:


The blue tit is one of the few British birds whose population seems to be increasing slightly at the moment, in contrast to most whose populations have fallen – sometimes dramatically – over the last few years. We seem to be losing lots of the birds I took for granted as a child, which is such a sad thing. As a race, we seem to be so damned good at exterminating other creatures.

22 thoughts on “A Walk And Other Things

  1. We have chickadees here (northern U.S.) but not this character, wish we did, very handsome. I stopped by the Cornell ornithology center a couple of times last year, and they had signboards up, with notice re the fast decline in eastern U.S. songbirds. I recently read an article about another decline, that hadn’t occurred to me, which is insects. We’re so pestered with invasive pests, and mosquitoes some summers, that it came as a surprise to learn there’s evidence of a steep decline in overall insect populations. Obviously a lot of our favorite songbirds are insect-eaters, so probably all related. Grim times.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sure it is related, Robert. Some insect numbers are up over here, but a lot are down, also. Yes, a food source for many birds, so I’m sure that’s all connected. Call it climate change, call it some other form of human activity, but I’m sure we’re at the bottom of it all.

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  2. We’re heading for snow here in mid-Wales and brrrr… it’s cold enough now.

    The thing I miss terribly is the dawn chorus. These days there’s a loud blackbird, a few sparrows and dunnock and a robin and that’s about it in the mornings. Used to get deafened by the birds.
    That said – while one doesn’t hear them, they are pretty visible. We’ve at least three pairs of blackbirds (currently – daily – fighting for territory) which in past years have had so many offspring they’ve been impossible to cope with. Loads of birds that I hear have vanished elsewhere seem to turn up here… but why are they so quiet?

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    1. Well, when the weather improves and they start to think about mating there will be a lot more chatter anyway. But it does seem to be all change. It’s just a different dynamic where we are in S.E. England – more tits, certainly, but far fewer sparrows and thrushes, and loads more magpies. Global warming? pesticides? different farming practices? I couldn’t say, but there are certainly fewer around than when I was a nipper.

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  3. Those tiny sparrows have pretty much disappeared from the Indian plains. Though that is more due to mynas forcing out other bird species. Of course, we have killed off the vultures…it’s terrible how terrifically good we are at this.

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  4. It does seem like there are fewer birds, and critters in general than back in the day. Except maybe squirrels. I think some squirrel real estate agent has advertised our back yard as the finest condominium living, and they’ve moved in in force. Makes it hard to feed the birds…

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