Winter solstice was more than a week ago and already the early mornings are brightening. But during the day, the sun still sits low on the horizon and the shadows from trees and fences stretch long over the snow. The sun is welcome, having been a rare visitor - we’ve had a gloomy winter - but today is bright and windless, which makes it pleasant outside despite the cold (minus 11 Celsius this morning rising to minus 5).
The redpolls bicker on and around the feeder – they look like drab birds at first glance, but watch for the moment when the light catches the festive dab of red on top of their heads. Then you notice the soft white breast, lightly streaked in grey and splashed with red. These are little charmers, in residence this winter, but not necessarily every year. When they’re not around, there's a flock of goldfinches who stay year-round and really should have squatters' rights. But the redpolls are a little bigger, and scrappier than the goldfinches. I don’t know where the goldfinches go when the redpolls push them out, but I hope someone else has a well-filled feeder for them. There’s one pair of goldfinches that didn’t move on. These two, truly drab in their olive winter attire, are part of the our winter redpoll flock and appear to suffer no discrimination.Read more