Wednesday, 22 December 2010

The effects of snow

The current harsh weather must make life for our birds extremely difficult.  The countryside looks barren, if not beautiful.  Of course one effect of the snow is to bring otherwise shy birds straight to the doorstep.  Our urban garden has seen the first bramblings this year, mixed in with other finches (goldfinch, chaffinch, greenfinch).  The continental blackbirds also appear in numbers.  Quite often you can spot one bird who has found a bush bearing berries 'setting up camp' and fending off all others - a tough job.

I have not yet seen any waxwings, but I have had many redwings.  These excitable birds are magic and a joy to watch; they come right to the side of the house where there is a bush currently laden with orange berries.  The limits of my camera are reached again, but here are some of my efforts.

The second photo down shows the one bird that kept dropping the berries...

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Winter outing

OUCH its cold!  But the great thing about winter is the birding.

On the Somerset Levels the now famous starling roost is a spectacular event.  Up to 5million birds visit from across Europe, when the flock is at its peak in January.  Last Sunday there were enormous numbers.  This not only attracted the shivering birders, and more casual visitors, but a peregrine.  Funny thing about peregrines - apparently starlings are sh*t scarred of them - not so funny when the flock is directly over head!  Anyway - made good watching.  Unfortunately the mist obscured much of the spectacle, but it was still worth braving the freezing temperatures.

Other highlights were an ice-skating water-rail and a marsh harrier fly by.

Lots of starlings

Heron coasting over starlings in reeds

I did meet nice jolly chaps out there - all the way from Cambridge to look at fog - long way to come really!

One birder particularly struck me as displaying optimism over sense...


At least Noah's hide looked scenic...

Noah's hide

And there was good sunset...

Most incredible of all was Glastonbury Tor sticking out of the mist - quite breath taking.

Frozen lake

The cold weather also attracts the more cautious visitors.  I was very excited to have this chap visit - the photo is through a window and the bird is quite far away....!
Brambling in the garden