I saw a raven today. It flew over several times as I was watching fieldfares a couple of miles from home, and cronked – a deep, slightly hoarse call, a noise I’ve not heard since seeing ravens on Mull last summer. Just for a moment I was back by the loch and the sunshine.
The fieldfares were picking their way across the common field on this cold, hazy Monday – about two degrees, duvet sky, not much wind to speak of, thin light even at midday – and fluttering up in shoals every now and again with a rattly chatter.
It took a while to cross the common, what with all the stopping and looking. A sparrowhawk was being hassled by a jackdaw. A little egret flew by along the line of the stream at the far end. The fieldfares were coming and going all the time. They have such beautiful muted colours, such January colours.
Then on into the small wood, where a great cloud of long-tailed tits were busy combing through the trees, maybe 20 or 30 of them, a systematic squad of high squeaks and intense activity. Great tits and blue tits were further away among the trees. A robin was singing.
A welcome flash of colour from the gorse bush by the path.
More yellow clinging to the trees. Every bit of colour is good in January.
And once into the bigger woods, the sun broke briefly through, and there was gold:
So many small birds on the walk along the farm track. This might not look like much in winter – a bit scrappy, a bit dull – but it was packed. A mile of birds. Linnets gathered in the bigger trees that punctuate the hedgerow. Goldfinches glittered overhead. Blackbirds chased each other as they sought out the fat ivy berries. Robins sang me to the edge of their territories.
And all the while starlings clicking and whistling and wheeling overhead. Then a pair of woodpigeons, sitting like little buzzards at the top of a tree. And then suddenly the real thing – a buzzard flew over the hedge and landed in the field, and started to search for worms. The cherry on the (slightly frozen) cake.