We saw a kingfisher on New Year's Eve. Zip. Swoosh. Shimmer. A bird made entirely out of onomatopoeia. It was zooming down the river, under the bridge the foxes use to cross the road. On Christmas Day there were three greater spotted woodpeckers chasing each other round the sycamore just past the end of our garden. They came and had a peck at the food we put out, but in an ironic way, as if our bird feeder was a sort of avian McDonalds, not to be taken seriously, but handy for a quick bite while out and about.
Now it is icy and the poor bramblings and chaffinches are having trouble getting seeds from the dispenser. They can't cling on like the blue tits and great tits and coal tits do, so they hover like hummingbirds, surely using more energy vibrating their wings than they could possibly get from sunflower seeds? I tried scattering seeds on top of the compost bin, but that is the squirrel equivalent of giving the date and address of a party on an unsecured Facebook account.
Moving to Coventry has introduced me to the suburbs and gardens and stuff, but more than this, it has introduced me to whole new times of day. Walking to work at 5am, that's when I see the foxes. It would never previously have occurred to me to consider a job that required getting up at 3.30. 3.30 is the night. That is a time for going to sleep, not a time for getting up. It is a strange unused time, a time for realising a party has definitely ended, for lying awake listening to the World Service, heart-in-mouth hospital trips, confused visits to the toilet, waiting for Father Christmas, desperately trying to get something finished for the next day, or catching a holiday flight. It's not normal. It's doubly surreal to be using that time to put on a uniform and walk through the night to go and perform mundane tasks for a corporate employer. It makes it kind of fun, because it's not real. And you get to see foxes on your way there, and kingfishers on your way back.