© 2014 by Barbara Copperthwaite.

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Back to life


The first daffodils in the park have opened up their blooms in Highbury Park. The sight of their sunshine yellow trumpets means spring has officially arrived as far as I am concerned. And it seems the birds agree with me: the near-silence of winter has been replaced by constant song as I walk through the different habitats in the park.

Stand by Henbury Pond and you will hear the Parakeets calling, and if you are really lucky, the high pirriping of the Kingfisher (hopefully accompanied by a flash of cobalt as it dives into the water. It had been absent for a week or so, but was back for a couple of days this week. The sight of it always lifts my heart.)

In the open, grassy sections, Crows are even noisier than usual. They look fabulous as the sunshine hits their glossy feathers. Above me wheeled seagulls, making the most of the thermals created by the very welcome sun. Spring has indeed sprung, and love is definitely in the air.

Magpies chatter above me. Some have started building their nests, flying by with twigs in their beaks that make them wobble when they get caught by the strong winds of the last few days. Blue tits are everywhere, moving restlessly from branch to branch, singing as they go, and their cousins the great tits are also conspicuous on branches, singing constantly. The still bare branches are full of movement, and it brings to mind a favourite moment of mine in a childhood book, C.S.Lewis’s Prince Caspian, when the trees come to life again.

The wooded sections of the park are particularly active at the moment. Jays are pairing up and flying flirtily through undergrowth and open spaces alike. Robins are pairing up. Even Wrens are appearing from the thick cover they like to hide in. I watched in delight yesterday as one sat on one of the rough coppiced fences the rangers have created in the trees and sang out its strong, clear call. The second it had finished it fluttered a little further along, then called again, repeating the process until it had done the entire length of fence, thus protecting its territory. Wrens are very territorial little things.

I am currently playing hide and seek with the Bullfinches. They are better at the game than I, sadly. For the last three or four days I have seen the occasional one, sitting on a branch, taking in the world, and flying away just a second before I get my camera into focus. Yesterday I was watching one do the same to me again, then it was joined by a good half dozen of its pals. As mentioned in this month’s Wild Times, at this time of year Bullfinches are forced from their usual haunts as their food sources become dangerously low, so now is a great time to spot them. I know they are unpopular with fruit growers, but I take one look at their handsome deep pink plumage and can’t help forgiving them.

All this activity seems to have stirred up one of our winter visitors too: the Redwing. I have barely glimpsed one through the whole cold season, but yesterday four flitted from thick hedge to tree branch and back again several times. Perhaps they are stretching their wings ready for the migration to their breeding grounds. They are a type of thrush, but with stronger colouring than most, and get their names from a russet patch of feathers on their flanks, which can be clearly seen when they fly.

The first daffodils in the park have opened up their blooms in Highbury Park. The sight of their sunshine yellow trumpets means spring has officially arrived as far as I am concerned. And it seems the birds agree with me: the near-silence of winter has been replaced by constant song as I walk through the different habitats in the park.

Stand by Henbury Pond and you will hear the Parakeets calling, and if you are really lucky, the high pirriping of the Kingfisher (hopefully accompanied by a flash of cobalt as it dives into the water. It had been absent for a week or so, but was back for a couple of days this week. The sight of it always lifts my heart.)

In the open, grassy sections, Crows are even noisier than usual. They look fabulous as the sunshine hits their glossy feathers. Above me wheeled seagulls, making the most of the thermals created by the very welcome sun. Spring has indeed sprung, and love is definitely in the air.

Magpies chatter above me. Some have started building their nests, flying by with twigs in their beaks that make them wobble when they get caught by the strong winds of the last few days. Blue tits are everywhere, moving restlessly from branch to branch, singing as they go, and their cousins the great tits are also conspicuous on branches, singing constantly. The still bare branches are full of movement, and it brings to mind a favourite moment of mine in a childhood book, C.S.Lewis’s Prince Caspian, when the trees come to life again.

The wooded sections of the park are particularly active at the moment. Jays are pairing up and flying flirtily through undergrowth and open spaces alike. Robins are pairing up. Even Wrens are appearing from the thick cover they like to hide in. I watched in delight yesterday as one sat on one of the rough coppiced fences the rangers have created in the trees and sang out its strong, clear call. The second it had finished it fluttered a little further along, then called again, repeating the process until it had done the entire length of fence, thus protecting its territory. Wrens are very territorial little things.

I am currently playing hide and seek with the Bullfinches. They are better at the game than I, sadly. For the last three or four days I have seen the occasional one, sitting on a branch, taking in the world, and flying away just a second before I get my camera into focus. Yesterday I was watching one do the same to me again, then it was joined by a good half dozen of its pals. As mentioned in this month’s Wild Times, at this time of year Bullfinches are forced from their usual haunts as their food sources become dangerously low, so now is a great time to spot them. I know they are unpopular with fruit growers, but I take one look at their handsome deep pink plumage and can’t help forgiving them.

All this activity seems to have stirred up one of our winter visitors too: the Redwing. I have barely glimpsed one through the whole cold season, but yesterday four flitted from thick hedge to tree branch and back again several times. Perhaps they are stretching their wings ready for the migration to their breeding grounds. They are a type of thrush, but with stronger colouring than most, and get their names from a russet patch of feathers on their flanks, which can be clearly seen when they fly.


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