The noble robin - he of countless Christmas cards (or could be she because I rather think they both look the same). For the first time in all the years I have lived here my garden does not seem to have a resident robin - he who always looks so pert and pretty but who in fact, once he has claimed your garden as 'his' territory does not tolerate another robin anywhere near.
Favourite food is mealworms - or suet from a packet. He will tolerate crumbs but - rather like Prince Harry= he expects the best.
And here comes the stumbling block to tempt him into my garden. I can't go out in frosty weather because I might slip and fall. I could open the patio door and scatter it on the step but - and here is the real fear - might I be encouraging four footed beasties - mice (I know where a family of mice live in my garden and as long as they don't try to come in they are welcome) but even worse - rats. There needs to be a bird table (and even then some rats can manage to reach the table by fair means or foul).
And as I write this it does occur to me that as far as I know there is no one younger than 70 around where I live - all bungalows seem to be in roads like that up here. And over 70 nobody wishes to be slipping and sliding to a bird table this time of year.
Now that I am more or less housebound birds play an important role in my life. It is a month today since the solstice - 28 days since the sun began to return and the mornings began to get lighter and most mornings now I see the thousands of rooks filling the sky as they go over at day break to cover the fields and dig for grubs with their iron-hard beaks. I wonder who makes the first move. Is there a chief rook who suddenly makes the first caw to wake everybody? This morning as I watched them go over - shouting and swooping around- suddenly, at a slightly lower level - a skein of geese flew over. How neat and orderly. One leading the V formation - taking not a scrap of notice of the noisy rooks.
And it struck me that like we humans - we all have our ways, our manners, our habits. There is some reason why I have not seen a robin this year. I just hope it isn't the Bengal cat that has taken to patrolling my garden daily. His owner is one of my carers - she has Bengals and the Tom is a law unto himself; she 'can't do a thing with him.' So what chance have I got?