Last week, daytime temperatures hovered around freezing, and fell to levels that meant I didn’t have the heart to throw my cat out at night. (And trust me, it has to be cold before that happens. She wakes me up by trying to get a claw up my nose.)
Today the thermometer was higher, almost in double figures – but with a lazy wind, the sort that would sooner go through you than around you. It took 30 minutes for my cheeks to stop stinging when I came inside.
I can be that precise because I was doing the RSPB’s Garden Birdwatch for an hour, and keeing an eye on the time. I’ve had the feeling for a few days that the year has turned – but sitting doing nothing other than watching bird behaviour absolutely confirmed it. I have a small garden, but it seems to be large enough for two distinct populations of birds. On the left is Blackbird Couple A, spending suspicious amounts of time underneath the pyracantha, a disconsolate single male idly pulling up moss on the lawn in front. Closer to the house, Robin Couple A (presumably a couple, there was no fisticuffs going on) were sat on the fence in the sunshine. On the right, Blackbird Couple B were underneath the weigela, Mrs. sat tossing leaves and looking bored, whilst Mr. bounced up and down and flicked his tail at her. Robin Couple B were in the upper storey, keeping an eye on the gentle stream of blue tits visiting the nut dispenser, moving in to intervene when some invisible behaviour code was breached. Sparrows and collared doves visited in pairs.
The 1st February marks Candlemas in the Christian calendar, Imbolc in the Celtic one, and it’s always a personal landmark also – the end of the shooting season, and the start of the detecting one; February is the only month in the year when I can play in a wood. Whatever your persuasion,