It has always been a mystery to me why, towards the end of summer, garden birds vanish from urban areas. I've learned that, like guest house proprietors, they take their holidays in the autumn, either going to stay in the country or flying south to journey abroad to the sun.
Our small Wiltshire garden was abandoned some six weeks ago, leaving only collar doves and magpies to squabble over the remaining resources. Apart from one flashmob display by a flock of blue, great and long-tailed tits, small birds have stayed away, until now!
The RSPB website explains that after their young have fledged, the knackered parents moult. Being more vulnerable to predators, they keep a low profile and remain quiet. Also, there are better pickings in the countryside. Not today however. They're back, but for how long? There I was at 8am having my breakfast overlooking the garden when they all homed in on our hawthorn trees - a family of sparrows, a veritable treasure of flighty blackbirds and some blue tits. On RSPB advice, I've been keeping a little fresh food and water in my feeder so there was something for them.
Their visit might have something to do with the weather. It's been very wet of late, and the nights - particularly last night - chilly. Insects probably aren't as active in the rain and cold hence the scouring of the Wiltshire gardens for food. Twenty minutes was all I had of them and now they've gone again, along with their muted chatter, back to Farmer Giles's fields.