Working in my mother’s garden this morning. There’s been an Escallonia against the back wall of the garden, been spreading for years and is now more or less dead. Went in there and ripped out all the dead wood, leaving just two branches which showed a bit of life and might come back into leaf. A third branch I left because it was entwined around a branch of the neighbouring Rowan. Didn’t have any tools, just breaking off the dead wood (it was that rotten) and would have needed a saw to get the branch away from the Rowan.

Cleared away all the dead wood that had built up over the years underneath the trees. As soon as I had finished a blackbird was straight in there and emerged a few minutes later with a beak full of grubs and worms. It stopped on the ground no more than two feet away from me. It stopped and looked at me, not in the least afraid. It seemed to be saying thanks for clearing a new source of food, then flew off into the field next door