|The Cromdale Hills at dusk, December 8, 2014|
After two days of snow, wind and cloud a quiet day in Strathspey. A pause before the next storm, forecast for tomorrow. But for a day the sun shone, the sky was blue and only a gentle breeze swept the land. The air was chill though, barely above freezing even at midday. The only sound was the crunch of my boots in the snow. When I stopped the silence was palpable, strong and powerful; a silence I could almost hear.
In the fields and woods little stirred. Back home the birds were more active than they have been in weeks, a flurry of blue tits, coal tits, great tits and chaffinches coming and going to the feeders. Great spotted woodpeckers flew in and hammered at the peanuts almost frantically. Blackbirds and dunnocks and a cock pheasant scoured the ground for seeds and bits of peanut falling from above. The days are short, the nights long and cold. For small birds finding enough to eat, enough for warmth in the darkness, is crucial for survival. The world is not quiet for them.