I couldn't think of anything to put on my blog today. Then I read a beautiful piece of writing on Riverdaze (see my blog list) about Sunday morning and I thought - why should there be anything spectacular to write about - what about an ordinary day. So thank-you Incorrigible Scribe for making me appreciate today!
It is Big Garden Birdwatch day here in the UK. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds asks us to watch our garden bird table for just one hour and in that time record the greatest number of each species that we see.
So at ten this morning I sat down with two biscuits, a cup of coffee and a note pad.
Outside the sun is shining and there is a faint breeze from the South. Under the Scot's Pine trees (see my header) the snowdrops are just beginning to show their white flowers and here and there a tiny ball of bright yellow tells me that the aconites are also coming through. Winter jasmine flowers along the hedge, its pale yellow flowers lighting up the dark green of the holly, as it has done since early November.
We are never short of garden birds here. We put out a lot of food and there is good cover. Although we have a resident sparrow hawk who patrols the table regularly, there is good cover in the shape of a large rhododendron bush which backs on to the bird table, so the small birds can always rush for cover.
As I watch our two cats - Blackie and Creamy cross the paddock and make for the far hedge, where there are usuallly young rabbits to be had. At least they are well away for my bird count.
The first bird to come is the Greater Spotted Woodpecker. He always makes the same approach. First he lands on the side of a pine tree trunk and strips off bits of bark - then he swoops sideways on to the seed hopper and has a few seeds before darting to his main meal - at the peanut dispenser.
As I watch him I catch sight of a small movement on the pine tree trunk and see the wonderfully camouflaged form of the tiny tree creeper making its way quickly up the trunk - such an agile little bird.
Then the birds come in thick and fast. There is nothing unusual but a great number of chaffinch, greenfinch, goldfinch and tree sparrow. Suddenly in comes a squadron of Long-tailed tits, their tiny pink bodies darting about and scattering the other birds. As quickly as they come they are gone and all the birds resume their breakfast.
At one point there are three robins, all sticking out their red breasts and looking threatening, so that finally two give way to the dominant third one, and fly off.
Not so the blackbirds. We have six cock blackbirds and they seem to quarter the lawns and give each other space. It is only when a hen blackbird appears that they start to fall out.
Under the hedge a little wren scratches and flips over the leaves. He does not visit the table, but prefers to skulk under the hedge and find his rich pickings there.
An hour passes quickly - an hour of pure pleasure. The birdwatch is done again for another year and I go to the computer to log-in my results. There will be thousands of others doing exactly the same throughout the country. What a nice, warm feeling to start a Sunday morning.