Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Surprises in the Snow

A heavy fall of snow always causes surprises to turn up - quite often in birder's gardens. People who don't normally get Fieldfares or Redwings in their garden do find them after snow. Another of the most frequent surprise visitors are Reed Buntings, and there have been recent reports from the middle of Beverley, in South Cave and in Nafferton. The Nafferton Reed Buntings may be seen here: http://idiocybirding.blogspot.com/2012/02/wee-bit-chilly.html
A male Brambling turned up in a South Cave garden - & was a lifer for at least one of the inhabitants.

We haven't seen a Lesser Redpoll in our garden for over 20 years, but on Sunday a drab female turned up. It was only when I was processing the pictures that I noticed it had been ringed. However, it wasn't a standard aluminium ring, so I wasn't sure if this had been ringed as part of some scientific study. Unfortunately, the more mundane explanation is that it is almost certainly an escaped bird from someone's private collection. The ring is red which indicates if it is a UK bird it may have been ringed in 2006, which in Redpoll terms makes it a very old bird indeed! [Thanks to RB for this information].

However so far the laurels go to Chris Cox. He found a Bittern up a tree in Burstwick, which was surprising enough, but this was mirrored at RSPB at Bempton on Sunday when another was photographed by several people. Yesterday, Chris walked 100 yards of a hedgerow near Keyingham and saw 10 different Woodcock - the highest total he's ever seen. One of these can be seen below & this was taken without his usual long lens!

Although the heavy snow is good for birdwatcher's, if it lasts more than a few days, it can have a devastating effect. Barn Owls can't find their prey under the snow, and Kingfishers can't find fish in frozen streams. This is just a small example, lots of other birds have trouble finding enough food the longer a cold snap lasts. Supplementary feeding & watering of birds in your garden can help some small passerines survive for a few extra days.

Bittern at Burstwick (c) 2012 Chris Cox
Woodcock (c) 2012 Chris Cox
Lesser Redpoll
Red Ring 8.....FB - ringed in 2006? escaped from a bird fancier's cage?
A Fangfoss Fieldfare (c) 2012 Phil Todd

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