Since I returned to France from Namibia quite early in November, the weather has been noticeably more changeable than during the same period last year - when I calmly cut hedges most of the time! The first couple of weeks were actually very pleasant, but this was followed by a very mixed spell with, first of all, much thunder and lightning, then a weekend of torrential rain, and soon after that, a very cold tramontane. Lately, I have noticed that, although the weather has been significantly calmer, the temperature seems to change frequently, being as low as 7 or 8 degrees one day, 16 or 17 the next.
One result of all this is that the garden is rather confused: I have (small) strawberries ripening, and the first irises are at least a month earlier than last year. And the red admirals appear whenever the sun shines. I cannot make much sense of this!
The birds have returned happily to the feeder, and, as before, the nuthatches and tits are most frequently seen. The crested tit is now getting bolder, and is beginning to visit the feeder, crossing from the big pine which is its usual haunt. Meanwhile, the normally rather solitary marsh tit has ventured around the corner of the terrace-hedge, into the busier area close to the feeder and other birds.
But the birds which are most in evidence this (early) winter are far from solitary. For the last several days, there have been really large flocks of starlings around us, several hundred birds at a time, swirling about and landing briefly, in chattering masses, on the taller trees, before taking off again. They all look rather handsome, their speckled plumage quite bright in the sunshine. They are very obvious, and I have seen nothing of this kind during my preceding two winters here.
If I believed in portents, (and I don’t think I really do!), I might suggest that the starlings think there is going to be a very cold winter- soon! (Which won’t do the irises or strawberries much good!). At least, anyway, my winter firewood has now been delivered and is all neatly stacked, ready for the worst.
Whatever does transpire, I hope it does not affect any of you too badly, and that you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!