This week, the snow came, carried in by a storm. And a day ahead of it, the fieldfares arrived.

A flock of about thirty birds took over a crab apple tree in our neighbour’s garden, crowding out the local blackbirds. Every now and then, a few would visit us next door. They kept their distance from the other garden birds busy on the feeders, yet their hunger made them brave, and a couple of them (along with a song thrush) would hop right up to the jasmine by the front door to pluck the berries.

One of the visitors took to guarding some fruit I’d put out at the foot of the garden, reminding me of a single fieldfare who used to visit us years ago, when we had an ancient apple tree. The bird was a plump, waddling creature, seemingly unfazed by anything – and I was pretty sure it was getting tipsy on the fermenting fallen apples.

Anyway, here’s a short poem-in-progress inspired by these latest visitors:




They settled before the snow

On the black boughs of the crab apple tree

Like the notes of a half-remembered song

Sung in fluttering harmonies

Of movement and feeding and hunger,

Quavered by bright red fruit.

When the storm broke and the flakes fell

The birds stripped the tree bare

Over the snap of two sky-white days;

With dusk, they would disappear

To roost in the heart of the woods.

Twice they returned;

Then vanished for good,

Suddenly, silently –

Snow borne on the tips of their wings.

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