Saturday, 3 March 2018

Wintry Windfalls

The cold weather and snow of the past week is having an effect on wildlife.  All the plentiful berries and natural hedgerow food has either been eaten or is covered by snow.  This has caused the arrival of unusual birds in many suburban gardens, but also resulted in abnormal behaviour in other wild birds in the countryside.  The strong winds on Thursday and Friday haven't helped the wildlife either, although there have been some beneficial side effects for the wildlife watcher.  Most of the following photos have been taken through double glazing, so please accept that some won't be quite as sharp as usual.
Golden Plover
The most noticeable widespread arrival, has been a huge influx of Fieldfare from all parts of our county.  Although Redwing have also been reported from Beverley no one has sent any photos of that species, but I've been sent dozens of Fieldfare pictures.  The first set are from Nafferton.
Fieldfare (c) 2018 Tony Robinson
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Some people are blessed with regular visits from Great Spotted Woodpeckers, but this male in Lund is out of the ordinary - again brought in by the adverse weather.
Great Spotted Woodpecker (c) 2018 Barbara Allan 
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Meanwhile in Pocklington there were more Fieldfares.  This one was digiscoped through a mobile phone.
Fieldfare (c) 2018 Chris Lawson 
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We must be the only garden without a Fieldfare, but is there any wonder when this male Sparrowhawk lands behind the garden pond and eyes the small birds on the feeders?  As far as we know it left without a meal.
Sparrowhawk
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Stoat Prints (rather than Rat, I hope)

On the outskirts of Beverley this weather often leads to the arrival of Reed Buntings or even Yellowhammers.  I'm still waiting for a Yellowhammer photo in the snow!  Stock Doves were also reported from a Beverley garden, but sadly no photos yet!
Reed Bunting (c) 2018 Nigel Kitchen
We haven't had a Reed Bunting either, but the snow has meant that we now see a total of four Robins at any one time, and now we've noticed that one of them has a white collar. 
Leucistic Robin
Meanwhile, back in Nafferton....... 
Fieldfare (c) 2018 Tony Robinson 
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Of course the standard garden visitors continue to be seen, sometimes in larger numbers than ever before.  The following three were taken in the Newport area.
Goldfinch (c) 2018 Hugh Wood
 Blue Tit (c) 2018 Hugh Wood
 Blackbird (c) 2018 Hugh Wood
To get an idea just how many birds are visiting gardens, sometimes you just need to take a step back, or use a camera without a large lens!
Various species (c) 2018 Glenn Milner
Back to Nafferton.... 
Mistle Thrush (c) 2018 Tony Robinson
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These photos were taken outside Scarborough of what is normally a summer visitor, shortly before the weather turned.  Has it survived the cold snap?
Ring Ouzel (c) 2018 Tony Robinson
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Meanwhile, back at North Cave Wetlands insectivorous birds are now hanging around near the seed. 
Pied Wagtail (c) 2018 Hugh Wood
Keep checking the sheltered areas of your garden.  The indistinct figure in the centre right of this photo is our only woodland wader.  This photo taken in the thicker snow on the south bank of the Humber. 
Woodcock (c) 2018 Jenny Curtis
After a couple of days the Fieldfares even made it to Lund... 
Fieldfare (c) 2018 Barbara Allan
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 After Friday's class I wondered if there was any chance of a Merlin in the Sunk Island area.  Sometimes the snow out there can make the tiny roads impassable.  I was amazed to see that there was hardly any snow at all.  However, the extreme wind meant that normally shy birds like Lapwing and Golden Plover were very close to the road, and they didn't take evasive action when a car parked carefully close to them - normally they would fly off.  They were crouched in the wind, and their feathers were blowing in every direction, but they seemed to be finding enough food in the rather dry soil.  The Golden Plover especially is usually a wary bird in these parts, but it was wonderful to get close to a species that was partially-moulting into its breeding plumage.  We saw one later that was actually on a strip of grass right outside someone's garden, so it almost became a garden bird!
Lapwing
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 Look at the iridescent colours on the side
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 Golden Plover
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 facing front
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 Golden Plover 

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About 3pm a Barn Owl was spotted, so I retreated to a bridge and hoped, before a white van spoiled everything, that it would fly right towards me.  These are the disappointing results.
Barn Owl
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 There were some of the Fieldfares around here too...
As we were leaving we came across the largest gathering of Roe Deer I've had right next to the road.  During the earlier part of the afternoon they had been noticeable by their absence.  I believe they have been culled, as they were causing too much damage to crops.
Roe Deer
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 There were actually more than this in the group
 Finally, if you aren't completely fed up of Fieldfare here are some more in the snow at Nafferton.
Fieldfare (c) 2018 Tony Robinson
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1 comment:

Hugh Wood said...

Love your Golden Plover shots Michael, close ups like that rather unusual πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½