It has been bitterly cold and miserably windy this winter. I've not ventured into the garden except to fill the bird feeders and water the greens and citrus under cover in the greenhouse. My sole consolation for being trapped inside is that I've been able to watch the display of birds.

I know very little about UK birds. I recently bought a Ladybird book on garden birds and I've been using that as a reference for the rather good range of birds that visit my garden. But the birds that excite me the most are the ones I know the least about: birds of prey. They hunt in the field behind the garden and call out their prehistoric cries across the wintry sky. A night, the hoots of the owls make the dog bark but I've yet to see one.

I am unable to identify any of the birds of prey and it's quite difficult to get a good photo of them. There is one that hunts from our roof into the field but once he's on the roof it's impossible to go out to photograph him without disturbing him by opening the door.

But trapped inside by the unrelenting cold, it's an escape to watch them hunt and soar.

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