I walked my patch last Friday. Small birds abounded in the hedgerows, which was just as well – I had to give up on finding that mega rarity in the fields (or perhaps the golden plover of a couple of weeks before, which in my dreams has metamorphosed into something distinctly more American, with a buff-coloured breast) as a wall of condensed water droplets – that’s fog to you, had descended over the countryside. There’s nothing like not being able to see far to sharpen the senses: mist brings things closer, gives the land an air of mystery, intimacy almost. I absolutely love it, but then, I quite like a clear, ecstatically sunny morning, or the darkening threat of a heavy downpour sending you dashing for cover. It’s another reason I go outside I suppose; I’m still a weather geek, even after years in the meteorological wilderness.
The beating of a great tit’s wings rattled my eardrum first as a tit flock scattered in front of me, defiantly louder than a distant tractor’s rumblings, or the village cockerel calling a few late risers out of bed. Chiffchaffs have been everywhere recently, and several were flicking restlessly through the hawthorns, calling me down the path with every gentle ‘hueet’.
Not far down the byway I found a marsh tit, seeking breakfast some 2km from the nearest decent patch of woodland and potential colony site – they’re not known for great feats of dispersal, but this little chap, and two more further down the path sneezing away to each other, had clearly availed themselves of the opportunities on offer along the Harrow Way hedgerows and tree lines: habitat connectivity in action perhaps.