|Photo: Clive Simpson|
WE'VE arrived at the equinox when the hours of light and dark are the same and it looks like spring might finally be on the way.
Over the short, cold days of winter we’d been diligently feeding our garden visitors - probably a dozen different types of bird each day - all with their own characteristics.
One feathered friend that didn’t visit the feeders was a charming little wren who was content with hoping around the hanging basket and tubs near our window, feeding no doubt on the insects living there.
The wren is one of Britain's most delicate birds, though size does not diminish its claim to be one of the most vocal. Wrens love thickets, hedges, undergrowth and shrubberies. Anything thick, dense and small.
But then came along the ‘beast from the east’ in early March, as the winter blast was labelled in the media and by gleeful weather forecasters.
It as like the door of the Arctic had been left ajar, allowing the cold air to pour out and sweep from the east across ill-prepared little Britain.
The regular birds were aligned on the garden fence and in the bare trees each morning as we pulled back the curtains on the snowy garden.
They were waiting in the bitter cold for their supply of seeds and bread crumbs, vitally important to keep them alive in such conditions.
In all this harsh winter weather our wren was nowhere to be seen, its supply of inspects rudely curtailed by the deep snow and sub-zero temperatures.
How could such a delicate bird - the smallest and lightest of British birds - survive these conditions?
Indeed, for two weeks after the snows and cold had abated we saw no sign of our tiny friend, which we judged must have perished in the hard conditions.
But then, three weeks later and the day of the vernal equinox, there was a sudden, brief flicker of movement on the patio beneath the door. An old wizened leaf caught in the breeze perhaps?
No, our wren was miraculously back, busily investigating its local territory and feasting on insects among the brightly coloured pansy flowers, themselves revived by the warming spring sunshine.