Around the time of the winter solstice, the countryside appears to come to a stop. As we hunker down around our wood fires and Agas, the short days and cold weather bring a halt to the growth of crops. However, for our birds, it’s a time of strenuous activity. With such a short space of daylight, the birds have to feed furiously so that they can survive the long, cold nights. It’s a race for life. At first light, the earliest birds on the move are the blackbirds, followed by the robins and blue tits. There isn’t a lot of singing, as seeking food has absolute precedence, but the robins still seem to have time to argue with each other over territory.

Despite their Christmas-card image, they’re very aggressive and will attack other species around the bird tables. They’re also unusual in that they will kill each other in fights for territory. During the fights, each robin attempts to pin the other to the ground with its feet, before raining vicious blows on the beaten bird’s head, particularly around the eyes, which often blinds or even kills it. They’re not quite as cute as they seem.