An early peek through the curtains revealed a pale blue sky and a hard frost. The rest of the house was quiet, everyone else asleep, so I crept out into the sun’s first rays for an early constitutional.
Barring a low line of cloud in the east, the sky was completely clear. The frost was melting fast.
I took one of our most frequently repeated routes: across the fields to The Row, down Moss Lane to Hawes Water, around the lake and back through Eaves Wood.
With constant easterlies and unseasonably cold temperatures, it’s been hard at times to realise that spring is upon us. But in Eaves Wood the day before we had watched mixed flocks of tits (including long-tailed tits – my favourites) bouncing around in the treetops.
Now I found another reminder – two or three emerging spikes of toothwort flowers, tiny but unmistakable.
I stopped in the woods two watch two crows, sitting on branches cawing softly to each other. Something in their behaviour struck me as odd. Then a buzzard dropped from a branch where it had been perched unnoticed by me. The crows followed. They didn’t seem to be mobbing or harassing the bird of prey, as they sometimes do. They landed again close by, all in adjacent trees. I watched all three for some time, flitting back and forth through the trees. When they landed to perch, I often lost sight of the buzzard, but never the crows. There was no apparent aggression in the behaviour of any of the birds. It was like a patient game of cat and mouse. Odd.
When I emerged from the woods the weather was totally transformed. I could still see a fringe of blue out to the west, but the rest of the sky has filled with ominous dark clouds. It had become rather gloomy after the brightness of earlier. There were a few flakes of snow in the air.
Close to home my ear was attracted by a particular bird song. I’ve been making some effort to learn some birdsongs and have made a little progress. This song had some of the trill of a chaffinch and a rasp not unlike a greenfinch, but was not either of those birds I thought. Probably a finch though. I scanned the bushes in nearby gardens….
A goldfinch! I waltzed home for breakfast with a spring in my step.
“Where have you been so early?”
“It doesn’t count towards our list, you went without us!”
This might take a while.