Mad rush yesterday. The sudden delivery of twelve pallets of compost to off-load into the container we use as an on-site warehouse. Muscle-work. Intense in the cold drizzle that stopped fingers working after the first nine hundred bags.

Woke up this morning, no surprise with aching shoulders. The TV full of images of high winds last night (which took the roof of a railway station in Cork) and a hailstorm which interrupted a Football game at Stoke; but outside wide blue skies and only a fresh wind. Hard indeed, low sun aside, that this is in fact December!

Needed gentle exercise. So, walking boots on – the paths still holding water from yesterday’s rain – and heading towards the brook. A hundred yards down the pavement, then into the park and the sunken path between the double hedgerow. One of my favourite walks from the front door. I read in a book once that sunken pathways are rare and becoming more so. But this one and one I have always known as Watery Lane are part of my history.

But part way along the path the muddy puddles sucking at my boots meant I had to pause  to refasten my bootlaces. Suddenly aware of the quiet. A buzzard launching itself from a low branch across the pastureland. Then it seemed I heard my mobile phone, inside a pocket of my coat (and there are many pockets in my coat). But before I could reach it I was surrounded by small birds moving in and around the hawthorns, oaks, hazels and hollies on both sides of me.

Finches, small, burbling, chattering calls constantly flowing between them. Like, the poet –in-me suggested, secretaries from a city company out rushing around to get lunch, eating on-the-go; desperate for social recognition and promotion. With a little stretch it was like being surrounded by small angels; until I recalled the collective noun for goldfinches: a charm. A charm of goldfinches: how apt. Well, mostly goldfinches, and my first real opportunity to look at one from face-on. Face looking mainly red from that angle; different from the profile view I am more used to. Stunned, I simply stood still. They are such small birds, but gregarious and busy. A family? A group that migrated to these parts together? I counted twelve but there were almost certainly more.There were also a number of greenfinches in the company. Welcome to them for they have been absent in large numbers in this area for the past eighteen months. For perhaps five minutes the whole bunch fluttered busily from branch to branch, I  think oblivious to my hopefully still presence. Circled around, came back; hopped from twig to twig trawling for much needed food to energise them over the dark-and-cold night-time.

When they left I took up my stroll, later encountering a pair of jays, a dozen or so red deer. Gave a fright to a heron and watched it’s take off, bending long-stilt legs, leaping upwards and long neck reaching painfully forward until after ten wing beats – big powerful ones, it could adopt the usual bent necked posture that gives these birds the characteristic profile. Tufted ducks on the pool, coots, sweet chestnut husks on the floor but nothing came anywhere close to those little-magic moments in the unexpected charming company of finches.

I wish them well in the coming cold.



4 responses to this post.

  1. Finches are lovely. I haven’t noticed any for a while. Thunder and lightning here today in two separate storms! There was a partridge (?) wandering about before daylight recently, presumably something the wind blew in! Sue


  2. […] margins. They are glamorous. And this is the second time I have been Flash-Mobbed by birds (see ). Then as I look more closely I am truly not sure whether these birds are not firecrests. That […]


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