I was out and about in the garden looking for a touch of spring on a cold, bright day. Sure enough snowdrops and golden crocuses, the stalwarts of late winter, were there piercing through leaf litter and the duff. It is always satisfying to push back the winter debris from them and with my hand crush brittle oak leaves into mulch.
A raucous squawking, squeaking (and was that a “kon-kar-reee”?) made me look skyward into the bare branches of a tall oak tree. There had gathered a large flock of grackles and two interlopers, which were indeed red-winged blackbirds. The birds looked their finest, perched up there so high with the backdrop of ethereal blue sky and with winter sunshine for their iridescent feathers and bright red epaulettes. They flitted about re-positioning themselves, “cheks” and “chuks” punctuating their chatter. Until all of a sudden they fell totally silent. Then every bird was still, heads cocked as if listening intently. Was there perhaps a hawk about? After a few minutes the danger had passed and the flock resumed their noisy conversation. Spring was in the air that day and the blackbirds have returned from their wintering grounds!