Our small birds continue to cost us a fortune through the winter but the pleasure they give each day is well worth it. We don't usually feed them on the ground, partly because it isn't particularly hygienic, partly because it's an indirect way of feeding our cats, but also because the bigger and more aggressive birds get all the best food, but this picture shows the number of small birds that arrive within a minute of a handful of grain being scattered across the terrace.
One bird is treated differently. Our semi-tame robin has been visiting us for months, and is standing at the front door each morning at the time bird breakfast is served to receive his private meal.
This picture shows business as usual at the hanging feeders which provide a menu of peanuts, seeds, sultanas - the blackbird is feeding off them - and fat in the form of lard.
We've noticed that the variety of species coming to visit us this winter has been severely reduced. Amongst the more unusual ones were the blackcaps, but we lost the male just before Christmas and, although the female has been around, eating mainly sultanas, we're seeing less and less of her.
The species which we would expect to be seeing, and aren't, include the greenfinch. One or two, like this male, occasionally pass through the garden, but it's an event when they do. Visits by siskins and coal tits have fallen away, and we're even seeing fewer goldfinches - and in the autumn there were hundreds of them around.
Following particular individuals, particularly amongst species like the chaffinches of which we see scores in a day, is difficult unless they have a distinguishing feature, like this great tit which had damaged her left leg. She was around for a while and then disappeared, having either recovered and moved away, or died.