It's a dull grey day through the car window; December 28th 2010. The slow thaw has set in but it has hardly been light all morning, despite the fact that we have passed the solstice and the days are already supposed to be lengthening.
It's a day to stay at home by the fire but I'm at Tescos. I was hoping for waxwings but there are none in Huntingdon at all. I can hear bird-song though. There are masses of redwings in the hawthorns near by, but they are almost silent. What I can hear sounds like a squeaky bicycle pump. The tyre must be really flat because he's been pumping now for ten minutes. Pst-ting, pst-ting, pst-ting.
Of course, the sound comes from a male great tit and he will keep it up until the spring. Apart from robins, they are the only birds you are likely to hear in full song in December. However, any day now, you will hear a mistle thrush challenging the weather from a high song-post.
He's certainly cheered up my visit to the supermarket. There's usually one singing at the corner of the haul road where the Heronry Trail starts. Come along on January 1st and we'll try and find you one.
If you don't know your bird song well, try the RSPB website and go to the birds by name tab. There you can check out their songs and see a video of each bird. It's the best, and it's free.
If you have an iPod Touch, an iPhone or an iPad you can download a birdwatching app from BirdGuides (via the Apple Store) that does the same thing. The advantage is that its mobile and you can use it in the field. 'Amazing isn't it?