Later in the morning, both birds carried nesting material into the upper reaches of a leylandii - next to the tree where a conspicuous one had been predated in the past. And, as nest-building goes, and hopeful that the Bullfinches would return to the hawthorn, what a world of difference their structures would be - the tits' marvellous oval-shaped masterpiece and the Bullfinches' seemingly precarious twiggy scaffold-like offering. Within minutes of moving away from the brook bank, a fine Grey Wagtail alighted in my corner rowan and began calling, as did a Kingfisher from further down the brook.
Later a Goldfinch twittered away from my roof-top, close to one of its past preferred nest sites, and both Coal and Willow Tits flitted between my neighbours' feeding station and the sanctuary of our hawthorns. And, to crown a wonderful little interlude, a gorgeous sunlit male Sparrowhawk traced an oval-shaped course as it flapped briefly and glided over a traditional territory. What makes this small collection of encouraging events so special is that there have been huge positive changes in recent times in the local status of all eight species, due to both natural and man-made factors.
Milder winters have boosted Kingfisher populations everywhere and Grey Wagtails, once confined to moorland streams for breeding purposes, have extended their range to include lowland sites; Sparrowhawks have recovered well from the agricultural chemical abuses of half-a-century ago; Bullfinch, Goldfinch and Long-Tailed Tit, virtually unknown at the flash in the past, are now fairly common breeders; and Coal and Willow Tit have benefited from the maturing of trees in gardens and at the flash.
If there is a downside to these and other habitat changes at the flash, it is that our wonderful grasslands were sacrificed to the whims of those addicted to an inexplicable tree-planting frenzy, for it is their actions which almost eliminated previous successful tenants - Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, Linnets, Lapwings, Partridges and others. At six o'clock this morning, a back garden Blackbird began the dawn chorus. In the next two or three weeks, first Chiffchaff, then Blackcap and Willow Warbler are sure to enrich nature's sounds, and all will be well with the world as another season blossoms forth.