I've mentioned this John Clare poem - Emmonsails Heath In Winter - on this blog before, because it's probably my favourite piece of his. But, what with the wintry weather and the fact that it's just a brisk walk away from the office, it bears repeating.
Emmonsails Heath is now Ailsworth Heath and Castor Hanglands, and it struck me this morning that the birds mentioned in the poem would probably be there today - certainly there are large numbers of Fieldfares on the move everywhere this week, and Woodcocks are becoming more visible, as they always do after snow, as they move around in search of food. Long-tailed Tits, too, the "bumbarrels" of the poem, are plentiful in most areas now.
That all sounds quite positive, but it would be interesting to know how the number of species and individual birds there compares to Clare's day - not very well, I suspect. In fact, it's a little task I'm going to set myself, to investigate that further.
NB "Bumbarrel", the Northamptonshire dialect name for the Long-tailed Tit, apparently comes from the barrel-shaped nests they build.