Blackbird – London, January 2010
Our house has a mature pyracantha hedge that surrounds the garden on two sides. It's a great plant for a number of reasons: it is evergreen (meaning that we have year-round privacy); it makes masses of sweet-scented blossoms in the spring and summer; it has formidable thorns (meaning good security); and in the autumn and winter it is covered in brightly coloured red and orange berries. Or rather, it was until early January.
On 5 January, it started snowing and the land only really thawed out yesterday. There was much complaining in the press about cancelled flights and delayed trains, but for the most part, people did not starve. But for garden birds, the situation was very different. If you have no stores of food and no paws to dig through snow and ice, the frozen ground is a feeding disaster and starvation a real possibility. It took only a day or so for the birds to discover that our hedge was a veritablle smorgasbord of non-frozen nutrition and soon we were inundated: blackbirds, blue tits, robins, wood pigeons, fieldfares, black caps and chaffinches were suddenly making swoops on the hedge all day long. Over the course of less than a week, they have systematically picked the hedge clean of berries. It does not look as pretty anymore, but it's great to know we helped so many birds to survive the cold snap. This picture was taken on the first day when the birds started feasting on the hedge – a female blackbird delicately picking a single berry.
This is part of a series of non-food photographs that will be published every Saturday on CookSister. Click here for a full list of photographs previously featured. All photos featured in Saturday Snapshots are available to buy as greeting cards or prints in my RedBubble store, including the new Year of Saturday Snapshots calendar, an A3-size calendar bringing together the most popular images from the first year of Saturday Snapshots. Feel free to browse - it makes a great gift!