Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 19 November 1915

After bumping over frozen ruts in lanes bordered by frost-decorated hedges, I reached the mere, only to find the fog hanging in a dense curtain; indistinct lumps on the water, just beyond the fringe of ice, were birds, but what kinds it was almost impossible to tell. Just beyond the reeds a couple of goldeneyes, recognisable by form rather than colour, were feeding; they have frequented this spot for nearly a fortnight. As I walked through the wood the crisp rime-rimmed beech leaves rustled beneath my feet, and nervous wood-pigeons dashed with clattering wings through the leafless branches. But the same footfalls which scared the wood-pigeons attracted another bird – a robin. Not content with coming to visit me he called my attention by a subdued but sweet little warble, and then, hopping and flitting through the undergrowth, kept pace with me whilst I walked. Why this difference in birds? The wood-pigeon, except in the London parks, where it is now tame, distrusts man and shuns him at once, but the robin seeks his company. When we dig in the garden the robin comes for what it can get; we are then useful food providers; but what can it hope to gain from our presence in the wood? Apparently it hopes for nothing, but is simply pleased to see us: perhaps its little brain may also realise that we are pleased to see it, and for that reason it need have no fear.

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Source: Guardian Environment