At Robby Redbreast’s
On a cold morning at the start of winter Robby Redbreast is woken by a snowflake that lands on his head. It’s snowing! Robby loves the snow. Everything looks so much prettier when the ground is covered by a layer of snow. But it is also a bit tricky to look for food. It’s impossible to find those juicy fat worms under the snow. Fortunately, there’s a lovely suet feeder full of nuts waiting for him near De Papaver. And luckily Robby downy feathers keep him warm. But how are his friends faring? Are they cold? Are they hungry? Robby decides to visit them. Maybe he can lend a helping … foot. First Liesje, the ladybird. Liesje likes playing hide-and-seek.
Will you help looking for her too?
At Liesje Ladybird’s
‘Hello lovely Liesje, you were hiding well,’ says Robby, ‘and you are so cosy in this small hole in the tree with your brothers, sisters and the whole family.’ Liesje explains that it is not just cosy but also nice and warm with all of them together. Liesje doesn’t want to play outside. It’s far too cold. ‘Just come back in spring,’ says Liesje. ‘Okay,’ replies Robby, ‘then I’ll visit Pricklet the Hedgehog.’
At Pricklet the Hedgehog’s
Pricklet the hedgehog is sleeping in a neat nest of twigs, grass and leaves. Robby has to call really loudly in order to wake Pricklet. ‘I had just begun my hibernation’, says Pricklet. Robby giggles at Pricklet. Pricklet is yawning and has grown quite a bit fatter since the last time Robby saw him. Prickle explains he doesn’t like winter. Far too cold and not much to eat. So he fills his tummy in autumn. Enough to see him through winter. He only emerges again in spring, and boy is he hungry then. ‘Now I want to go back to sleep,’ yawns Pricklet. ‘Nite nite, Pricklet, I’ll go find Reggie Rabbit.’
At Reggie Rabbit’s
Finally someone who also likes the snow! Reggie and Robby play hide-and-seek between the trees. Robby has little trouble finding Reggie. He leaves beautiful tracks in the snow with those big feet. Finding Robby is not that easy for Reggie, and after an hour he’s had enough. ‘Didn’t you get cold, Reggie?, asks Robby. ‘Don’t worry,’ answers Reggie, ‘my fur is very warm. Everyone wishes they had a fur coat like mine.’ ‘But surely it is far too hot in summer?’ asks Robby. ‘No, because I lose a lot of hairs when it gets warmer,’ Reggie replies. ‘Less fur, less warm.’ ‘Oh yes,’ chuckles Robby, ’I do the same with my feathers. Less down, less warm. Do you want to play again tomorrow, Reggie?’ Reggie laughs, ‘ You know where to find me!’ ‘I’ll go find Betty Bat now,’ Robby says, ‘see you tomorrow!’
At Betty Bat’s
Betty Bat is hanging in the special bat box with some other bats. She’s hanging upside down with her wings wrapped tightly around her. Right next to her are more bats. ‘That’s probably to keep warm,’ thinks Robby, ‘like at Liesje Ladybird’s.’ No matter how loudly Robby calls, Betty doesn’t stir. Lil’ Chirp the Blackbird flies by and shouts that Roby should let Betty sleep. Betty is also hibernating, just like Pricklet. And Betty also gained some weight. Maybe Betty doesn’t eat in winter either? Robby sneaks away quietly. Looking for Scuttle the Squirrel.
At Scuttle the Squirrel’s
‘Scuttle … are you home?’ Robby peeks into the small hole in the tree where Scuttle lives. Scuttle is home. He is awoken by Robby’s call. ‘Are you hibernating too? There’s hardly anyone left to play with,’ says Robby. ‘Hibernation… ? More of a winter snooze really, replies Scuttle. ‘I am very tired because I worked all of autumn to collect nuts. I then hide them near my tree so that I can nibble on them in winter. I go to sleep when it gets cold, and when I wake up, I fill my tummy again. And then I fall asleep like a log.’ ‘I’m sorry I woke you up Scuttle,’ sighs Robby. He starts to understand better and better that each animal has its own way to get through winter. He wishes Scuttle good night and rushes away to search for Fanella Frog.
At Fanella Frog’s
Fanella Frog is nowhere to be found. Robby searches near the pond where he played with Fanella not so long ago. Lil’ Chirp sees Robby searching here, there and everywhere. ‘Who are after, Robby? asks Lil’ Chirp. ‘I’m looking for Fanella but I can’t find her anywhere,’ cries Robby.
‘That’s right, nods Lil’ Chirp, ‘ Fanella buried herself deep into the mud at the bottom of the pond. It doesn’t get any colder than zero degrees Celcius at the bottom, and that way Fanella won’t freeze in winter, not even when a layer of ice covers the pond.’ Lil’ Chirp is really clever, isn’t she? Robby thanks her and goes in search of Sunny Swallow. He always makes such fun dive bombs with him.
At Sunny Swallow’s
Sunny’s nest is empty. Really? Is Sunny also hibernating? There’s Lil’ Chirp again. She understands that Robby is looking for friends and she wants to help him. Lil’ Chirp explains that Sunny flew south, all the way to Africa! ‘That sounds like fun,’ says Robby. But Lil’ Chirp replies that it is not always as much fun as it sounds. Of course it is warm in Africa, but the trek there is very long and dangerous. On the way, there might be storms, and they have to watch out for birds of prey and other wild animals. ‘I’d rather stay at home,’ shivers Robby and he continues his search for a friend to play with. Would Cora and Colin Cricket be home?
At Cora and Colin Cricket’s
Robby hasn’t seen Cora and Colin for a long time. At the start of summer they sang together in the dawn chorus. Robby feels like a bit of music because he is a little sad now that so many of his friends are not home. He checks the hole in the ground where Cora and Colin live. Cora and Colin are not in, but the hole is not empty. In it sits a young cricket. ‘Hello, who are you and where are Cora and Colin?’ asks Robby. ‘I’m Nymph,’ the little cricket replies, ‘I’m Cora and Colin’s son. Crickets don’t live as long as robins. Once the eggs have been laid the parents die. The eggs become little crickets like me. Each time I grow, I burst my skin; it has happened nine times already. After winter I get two more skins and then I’m grown up. May I sing in the dawn chorus too?’
‘Yes of course, that sounds excellent!’ exclaims Robby. ‘I’ll pick you up when we start up again,’ promises Robby. And off he flies, happy he found a new friend. And who’s there? Lil’ Chirp!
At Lil’ Chirp’s
‘I’m a bit bored too,’ tweets Lil’ Chirp. ‘Do you fancy singing a ditty with me?’ Robbie nods; he is happy that Lil’ Chirp also likes singing. He believes singing together is much better than singing alone. Together they belt it out. Reggie Rabbit joins in and thumps the beat with his big feet. Betty Bat swings softly in her dreams and Pricklet the Hedgehog snores contentedly, although not quite in tune.
Suddenly the sun starts shining and Robby feels much happier. He did find some friends to play with and he knows his other friends will wake up again in spring. He has big plans for the dawn chorus and practices some new songs with Lil’ Chirp to surprise his friends when spring is in the air again.