An Unlikely Warble

4 p.m., 1°C, 34°F: A grey afternoon; a blackbird’s scolding alarm call. One hundred wood pigeons disperse from the wood – or, more probably, from the field behind the wood – flying over quietly as I draw our compost bins.

There’s an unlikely warble, which soon gets extemporised; only a song thrush would improvise such a varied and eccentric song.

Twenty or thirty winter gnats are dancing in a loose column, five or six feet above my bedraggled square of meadow.

There’s a thin song from a robin and repeated nasal chirrs from a blue tit. As sunset approaches every bird seems tetchy and alarmed, then there’s a strident insistent call that sounds exactly like a house alarm. Hang on, it is some kind of alarm which my neighbour is testing out.

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