I appreciate days like this; a bright clear blue sky which brings out the best of autumn’s tonal palette, coupled with a fresh wind that carries a hint of winter chill. It is the kind of weather that makes you feel alive, as each of your senses is stimulated in turn. Other creatures also seem to respond to the conditions. The local Jackdaws, for instance, have adopted an almost playful attitude. They rise up from the chimney pots on arched wings, allowing the breeze to pick them up and then fling them across the sky in a controlled glide; an arc of ragged black and sooty grey accompanied by soft cackling calls. This game continues for some time, pairs of birds seemingly enjoying themselves and immersing in an activity that appears to serve no other direct purpose. For an instant the game is interrupted, as the Jackdaws spot a Carrion Crow which has strayed too close to the patch of sky that the Jackdaws regard as their own. Working in unison they harass the crow, lunging at the bigger bird from above and forcing it to twist and swerve in order to avoid being hit by outstretched claws or a stabbing beak. The crow responds by calling but the Jackdaws are soon successful in driving it away.
While some of the local trees have shed their leaves, others are retained and with the wind compose an overture of noise, like a succession of waves pulling back across the small pebbles of a beach. Many of the leaves retain some green, the process of drawing back nutrients not yet complete. It won’t be long until these leaves fall, perhaps prompted by another night time frost. There does not seem to be much fruit on many of the hedgerows, a few haws and hips but little in the way of tree seed. This suggests that it might be a difficult winter for some birds and I would expect to see greater use of garden feeding stations by species like Coal Tit, Chaffinch, Nuthatch and Woodpigeon.
Over recent weeks both squirrels and Jays have been working hard to store seed for the months ahead and, no doubt, some overlooked seeds will germinate in our flowerbeds come spring. Some may be unearthed earlier as bits of garden are reworked during this season when so much of the groundwork is done. This is another reason to relish the outdoors on such a day. Stand still too long and you will feel the cold but get stuck into some outdoor chores and you’ll keep yourself warm, ending the day with a healthy flush across your cheeks and deserving of a warm bath and a comfortable spot inside as darkness falls.