Keeping the bird feeders filled is a bit of a challenge during the winter months - no time in the morning, too dark in the garden at night. As a result it is often the first job on a Saturday morning.
The first five minutes after this chore has been completed are fascinating, with pretty much the same action unfolding every time. First the house sparrows arrive, descending on the fat ball feeder in the back garden and then the two front garden feeders (with a ferocity which will see them emptied by tomorrow morning).
Next will be a pair of collared doves who will set up camp on the biggest feeder, followed by a pair of goldfinches who will do likewise on the niger seed feeder. Blue tits and great tits will arrive next, focusing on the fat balls and peanuts, and underneath it all will be an assortment of robins, dunnocks and starlings fighting over the scraps.
All of this happened this morning, but with one exciting twist - no sooner had they all arrived than a male sparrowhawk flashed through the garden (scattering all and sundry), turned steeply and settled in a neighbour's tree. It's been a long long time since I've seen a 'sprawk' in the garden, and this might even be the first male. It looked magnificent in the morning sun, but sadly just too far away for a photo to really do it justice.
Bird of the day: Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus), one of our most common raptors but not often seen well, despite having an obvious attraction to garden bird feeders.