Column: Birds hunker down as wild and windy weather returns

As I type this on Saturday morning it is a truly foul day '“ cold, with a bitter east wind and stinging rain.

It is barely light, and the garden is a sorry, sodden place.

Earlier on there was a dusting of snow for the first time this year and as I came down for breakfast a couple of wood pigeons were stalking around the crazy paving hoping some bird seed might still remain.

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I opened the door and chucked out a cup of fresh seed for them, but they disappeared in fright and the beneficiaries were a group of sparrows.

The fresh coconut feeder was fleetingly visited by a couple of blue tits, but mostly the garden is empty of any visible life – the birds are hunkered down somewhere, sheltering from the worst of the weather and conserving energy.

However, there are some small signs of better things to come. I have several terracotta pots full of crocus and tulip bulbs and some of them have tiny shoots just visible.

Also, the hellebores are in bud and will soon brighten up a particularly dull part of the garden – that unlovely area where the bins are. I always mean to increase my stock of hellebores – I just have a pure white one and one with purple speckles on the petals.

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They tend to hang their flowers down, hiding their glory, but anything that is prepared to flower in winter is a welcome sight.

I shall watch for the first bud to open in the next few weeks as I make trips to and from the bins!

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