It was a grey and brown sort of day: overcast, mizzling, muddy. But when I went to Hillers to relieve the tedium of sitting at home, staring out of my study window at greyness and brownness, I was pleased to find that the light was actually a little better than yesterday’s, and my hopes rose for lots of photogenic action outside the bird hide.
Within minutes a sparrowhawk swooped into the clearing and put everything except the pheasants to flight, landing on a log a little distance away. I tried to lift the camera very slowly, but he saw me and swooped out again – causing a further flurry of alarm as he flew away through the wood. After that it was about fifteen minutes before the first of the small birds risked coming to a feeder, and for the rest of my visit they were all nervous and reactive, disappearing under cover whenever they heard any kind of unusual noise.
The other notable thing was that the nuthatch and all the tits – blue, coal, long-tailed, and great – fed exclusively from the peanut feeders today, whereas usually they will eat seed at the bird table too. This made me wonder if they sense a cold snap on the way, and are instinctively taking on calories for warmth – though I’ve no evidence to support the supposition. Whatever, the only birds that presented me with portrait opportunities at the bird table were the robin I blipped yesterday, a pheasant, a blackbird, and several dunnocks, and of these I’ve chosen this shot of a dunnock – partly because it posed so elegantly, and partly because its brown and grey plumage is so very appropriate to the day.