Monday, 6 February 2012
At the traffic lights, a Grey Wagtail flickered delicately over the stream, showing its yellow rump then perching cheekily, with eponymous vigour. Church Street was loud with Great Tits and Robins. As I passed Dingle Lane, a pair of Long-tailed Tits eyed me beadily. Then another Dunnock sang boldly within four feet of my eyes. Then in the Park, half a dozen wintering Redwing shrilled at me and a Greenfinch trilled softly. A Blue Tit was singing from the very tree top, showing that no Sparrowhawk had passed that way recently. By the Park Pond, the resident Goldfinch flock was too cold to do more than make little squeals to each other from their perches, instead of their usual tinkling call flights - as was I, as I abandoned my course and headed back through the frozen Park toward a fire - George.
Starting from by the Sandbach Crosses, a Dunnock was singing shrilly in a silver birch behind the Black Bear, its song as keen and metallic as the weather. Armed with a pair of binoculars and a warm smile from the multi-layered Big Issue man, I walked down the path past the Waitrose car park, listening to many birds singing as keenly as (perhaps even partly because of?) the weather. At the by-pass roundabout, the stream was full and the wood quiet. I paused holding my binoculars there, wondering if just one or two drivers might not just notice me, but also think for a moment as they passed. For they, themselves, are watched! Yards from the roundabout, I halted, on realising that a large, healthy-looking Buzzard was sitting on a nearby branch, staring at me. It stood out in the bare winter wood as did little else, for the golden carpet of Celandines is nearly two months away. Yet probably not one in a thousand drivers noticed it, even when their queue paused directly opposite.