This morning rain was lashing on the windows before dawn, but with first light it had eased away. There was the threat of some blue sky, and maybe some sunshine, but it didn't last long as the clouds rolled back in and it turned bitterly cold.
As always the garden was full of birds, Goldfinches and Siskins squabbled around the feeders, and on the lawn the blackbirds squared up to each other for the prime area under the feeders. The finches drop the seed which is then eagerly picked up quickly by the Blackbirds. They have been joined recently by the Blackcaps too, but they were not about today. The Woodpigeon numbers have also been increasing with at least eight lumbering around the garden today with their New York waddle.
The number of birds now aware of the mealworms has increased. It is now not just one Blackbird, but at least three, maybe four and they all come when we whistle. There are still three Robins, they usually wait in the tree as the worms are put out.
They have also taken to using the little ceramic bird feeder as they don't have to compete with the Blackbirds there.
But they do have to compete with the Long-tailed Tits, who have learnt very quickly, mainly through curiosity that the mealworms are available, and they fly to the ceramic pot and the tray. This morning at least eight came through the garden on several occasions.
There was originally only one that would take them, but now many more have learnt that there is a nutritious meal available and they all fly in and they take the worm back to the tree where they hang on one leg to while holding the worm with the other and eating it
The Blue Tits were about in numbers. Always making their way to the top of the trees.
Another small regular visitor over the last few weeks has been a male Goldcrest. Usually announcing his presence by the loud calls coming from the bushes, he is a bundle of energy as he moves through branches visiting almost all of the feeders quickly.
As it flitted around the branches the bright yellow crest that gives it his name would flash in the gloom.
Siskins have been present in the garden this winter in record numbers, just today there were fourteen competing with the Goldfinches, and even though they are smaller they are still prepared to take on the bulkier cousin.
Another regular user that has been a very welcome sight this year has been a pair of Redpolls. Today I only saw the one, a male, and he is beginning to develop the pinkish red blush of the breeding plumage on the breast and forehead.
In fact it was the Redpoll that led to an unexpected but very welcome sighting, for me that is, and not necessarily the birds.
In text conversation with Ian he remarked he hadn't seen a Redpoll this year, so in an effort to wind him up I decided to message when I saw this one.
I went to get my phone, and came back to watch the Redpoll as I sent the message to Ian, but looking out of the window there were no birds. I did though see a shape in the middle tree that I thought was a Woodpigeon, but then suddenly realised that Woodpigeons don't have long yellow feet, with threatening claws on the end!
I have had Sparrowhawk in the garden,but they never stay, so once again I rushed to get the camera, and then walked back carefully to the window in the hope it was still there, and it was. I was then able to get a lovely portfolio of photographs, concentrating on those incredible yellowish orange eyes.
She looked around constantly, had she arrived in an attempt to take one of my garden visitors, probably, the feeders are not just for the finches it would seem.
Close up they are amazing birds.
The windows sometimes shading the view as I moved to get a better view away from the branches.
Then another shake, and a look around then the body lowered and she pushed off form the branch and flew out of the garden, scattering a flock of Jackdaw as she left.
With the nights now drawing out, and the days getting longer hopefully there will be signs of Spring all around. After this winter it can't come any sooner.