The fact that bad weather causes more and more wild birds to head into gardens has been well reported in recent weeks. The ice and snow has resulted in two or three 'phone calls from family and friends, asking what the new birds are in their gardens (redwings and fieldfare in the main).
My own garden has been no exception - so while I haven't been able to get out birding for what seems like weeks, the garden has offered some recompense.
My own roll call of less common species in the recent weeks has included: reed bunting, blackcap (a splendid male, still at the front garden feeders this morning), several bullfinches (male and female), long-tailed tits (generally in pretty small groups, which is a concern), redwings, fieldfares (just a couple), song thrushes, and this evening's star attraction - a male sparrowhawk happily ripping something to pieces (by the time I found it the prey was too far gone to identify).
And meanwhile, in the distance, I have been able to hear great spotted woodpecker drumming pretty much every day - my favourite signal that things are inevitably, albeit slowly, taking a turn for the warmer and brighter.
Garden bird of the month: Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla), a delicate little grey warbler with, as the name implies, a distinctive black cap atop its head (brown on the female). While our own summer blackcaps tend to head south for the winter (like most other warblers) we are lucky enough to host overwintering blackcaps from the continent - making them one of the few warblers you can find year-round.