The big blow at the weekend reveals knots of empty crows’ nests.

A last blow and the leaves are off. In fact we are all off into winter now for certain. The air is cold and when I throw a ball for the dog it lands with a satisfying thock instead of the usual fut; good news as even the wettest of cow pats has grown a skin of ice.

Gorgeous flocks of redwing and fieldfare keep my eyes in the sky – black clouds of starlings work the hawthorns moving together wherever they go. Blackbirds feast on the last of the apples, hanging like neglected Christmas baubles.

The ash trees, stripped by the gusts at the weekend reveal their knots of empty crows’ nests, funnels made from random twigs wedged into place I remember, by a roost of determined beaks last February. A phone call from my daughter, many miles away, during her first term at university, resonates.

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