The house here is quite well organised for watching the birds in the garden. I have mentioned that there is a view from the kitchen sink ( vital in any house for me!), but the living room has french windows on to the upper terrace ( sounds very grand, but it isn't very big!), while my bedroom looks into the orchard ( ditto!). What this means is that we get a pretty good view of what is happening on three sides of the house, and now being in my second year here, I have a rough idea of what to watch for.
In the "winter" ( which has actually only just begun), I think quite a few birds come down from the woods above the valley floor. We have two large pine trees, which are much used by the tits. Some- especially the great and blue- use the feeder on the terrace regularly, but I see a coal tit only rarely. The long-tailed tits, which I love and have enjoyed in so many places in the Scottish Highlands) have not got wise to the feeder yet, and it is also ignored by the occasional crested tit- so special a sighting in Scotland, that I still get excited about having them in the garden! And there is an occasional marsh tit- it likes the same bit of hedge and garden as the blackcaps I mentioned last time, but skulks, very quietly, in the foliage.
These join with the resident sparrows, which are quite fun to have around, a couple of robins, the occasional chaffinch and a few visiting starlings. Then a few birds about which I have mixed feelings: you might think blackbirds are fairly innocuous but they actually make quite a mess of the garden, flinging leaves and gravel all around the place- protecting seeds from them is not easy! We have two collared doves, but they seem very mild, quite tame with us and disinclined to bully the other birds, so I am happy to have them. Then there are the magpies, noisy and vigilant- but I did hope they might go for the neighbourhood cats more than they do!
We have once - Christmas Day, 2012!- seen a treecreeper, but there may be more visits; they can be very tricky to see. Last year, there were more wagtails around- I think they are white wagtails, rather than pied, here- but I still hear the occasional one. And just lately I have been delighted by good views of a nuthatch. Being in the far North of Scotland, I never saw them, and for me they were, like kingfishers, legendary birds of the South! They are smaller than I always expect, and dart about in the trees. My bird book says that they have " a sinister, devilish look " when seen close to, but to me that seems a bit much- something to do with the dark eye-stripe, I guess! The one I have been watching in the last few days is very colourful underneath, a really warm, deep orange.
Stop Press! No - there are two! ( nuthatches!)- I was on the ' phone, glancing out of the window, and there was one at the feeder, and another, at the most incredible angle, on the trunk of the tree which holds the feeder-brilliant!
( to be continued).