Now that it is beginning to get light a little earlier my pleasure at the start of the day has suddenly increased, as it does every year. I sit up in bed, the curtains drawn back, drinking my morning cup of tea (which the farmer has brought me every single morning in the twenty two years we have been married) and wait for the first signs. Still the weather has to be fairly cloudless for it to be light enough, but this week because it is frosty and sunny each day, the sky has been clear.
And suddenly they come - the rooks. They come in their thousands from the rookery half a mile down the road, calling importantly to one another as they pass over and in front of the house on the way to their feeding grounds in the fields up the dale. It takes them half an hour to pass.
This morning I had another sight to thrill at the same time. There is a post holding the telephone wires between our house and next door's and throughout the time the rooks were passing, a barn owl sat on the post watching them. As they finished going past, it lifted its great wings and glided off nonchalantly across the fields.
The birds at the bird table - the spotted woodpeckers, the various tits, the robin, the blackbirds, the hedge, tree and house sparrows, the pheasants, the jackdaw and the wood pigeons - suddenly seemed quite tame by comparison.
I have to make the most of it. In a couple of weeks it will be light enough for them to be past before the curtains are open. They are early risers.