January saw an influx of birds into the garden here as we saw more movement of flocks of winter birds in the fields round about us. Species such as starlings, linnets and redwings, which are unusual visitors to the garden here, sat around on our hedges and made for very interesting bird watching. We also had our first winter finch – a couple of lesser redpolls – but there is still no sign of siskins or bramblings. Song thrushes began to sing every day – one in particular from the top of our ash tree – a truly wonderful and spring-like sound. As the month progressed a second also started to sing from the woodland next door.
The weather continued to be mild, foggy and relatively dry and the bird feeders were exceptionally busy with more than twenty species in the garden most days. Fieldfares continued to feed on the fallen apples and there are still plenty lying under the trees in the garden. Only two mammals were seen this month, both on the patio at the back of the house. The first was a bank vole that managed to find his way inside a bird feeder! Clearly he knew what he was doing and popped out again easily, leading me to believe that this was a regular occurrence. The second was a weasel for which we had excellent views as he chased around for several minutes – presumably searching for the bank voles that frequent this area.
By the end of the month other birds were starting to sing in the relatively mild weather and great tit, chaffinch and dunnock were heard singing from the top of the hedges. Our willow tit, which had not been seen for a couple of week, returned to the feeders along with two marsh tits. Both marsh and willow are still caching food in a variety of places.
The month ended with snowdrops just in bloom in the garden and on the bank outside our house – a truly uplifting sight.