The beginning of December brings with it our return to winter birding tasks – tasks we spend all summer, especially during the too hot months, looking forward to.

Regular readers will know that these duties involve weekly (weekdays for us, a couple of friends do weekends) visits to the nearby bird banding station to refill the many seed feeders and then spend an hour so wandering around the snow drifts to see what birds are about. This is great therapy for the soul as the restricted access to the site means that we get the place to ourselves … well, mostly to ourselves, a deer calmly watched us for a while from the other side of a bush.

This morning was dull, damp and dismal indeed and drizzling as we arrived at the site. What could be nicer – but the birding gods had clearly colluded with the weather gods and as we got out of the car the rain stopped and didn’t get going again until five minutes after we had returned home.

Anyway – 16 species greeted us. Mostly the usual winter residents but including a remarkable 42 House Finches; probably more but the count was conservative to avoid double-counting. These are often around in penny numbers but this large fragmented flock was quite a surprise. The species seem to have done well this year – as we well know, there being a small group in our garden who have certainly successfully raised a lot of youngsters. A Red-tailed Hawk, a couple of Ravens. Nice, if common birds.

Good to be back.

Now photographs (including a rare selfie) … as the weather had promised to be wet I only had the phone with me but this will give you a taste of our favourite winter playground. Looks a lot nicer when things are deep and crisp and even and the sky is blue though.