AN EXCITED cackling from the crimson-berried hawthorns lining the track near Cambus, and the grey-tinged rumps of fieldfares bounded away into the distance – perpetually shy birds that are always wary of people.

There were redwings in among them too, smaller thrushes than fieldfares, with a distinctive red underwing.

I bend a full-berried hawthorn branch down towards me and admire the glistening fruits, packed with live-giving nourishment.

There are few more important trees than the hawthorn when it comes to sustaining our wildlife, especially at this time of year when hordes of our autumn and winter visiting thrushes avidly devour their haws.

It is a race against time: fierce winter weather could descend at any time and the berries will soon be gone, and the birds know this only too well.

Indeed, it can lead to a spat or two, and a fieldfare will aggressively defend a hawthorn by driving away redwings that dare to encroach upon it.

This relationship between hawthorns and birds is very much a quid pro quo one - the indigestible seeds get scattered in the birds’ droppings, thus enabling the trees to colonise new areas.

But the only way to achieve this is to invest energy in producing red fleshy fruits to attract the birds.

I have also been watching a red squirrel in my garden busily burying nuts for retrieval later.

Its behaviour borders on the comical, bounding across the lawn with nut in mouth, then burying it into the grass with snout poked under the ground, before patting the soil carefully back with its little forepaws.

Red squirrels have good memories and can recall where they have buried nuts, or they can relocate them later by smell.

However, thievery is prevalent and other squirrels often plunder such stores, which is why squirrels tend to have lots of small caches, rather than putting all their eggs – or nuts – into the one basket.

If an individual thinks it is being watched by another squirrel, it pretends to bury an item as a clever ruse, before burying it elsewhere later.