Saturday 4 February 2012

Winter Finally Hits the West Midlands

With the recent drop in temperatures it was nice to enjoy the comings and goings around The Cottage. Visitors to the feeders have been pretty sparse during the relatively mild winter so I was more than happy with today's sightings.  The first visitors to scavenge a few scraps this morning were some of our resident Jackdaws with around a dozen birds present at any one time. More unusual species included a Wren and up to 4 Blackbird among the usual Robin (2), Great Tit (2), Blue Tit (2), Dunnock (2), House Sparrows (14), Starlings (20), Goldfinch (10), Greenfinch (8) and Chaffinch (20).

After wrapping up warm, I then decided to brave the bitter cold and made a trip down to Alvecote Pools.  With around 85% of the lakes frozen solid the majority of the wildfowl were concentrated around a small area of Mill Pool.  Highlights included an impressive 26 Shelduck along with 40 Eurasian Wigeon and 15 Goosander.  It was also quite noteworthy that good numbers of Fieldfare were on the move, a sure sign that the feeding conditions for them were about about to get worse.  

After a quick call to Steve Richards, we decided to meet up to check out the Laridae at the premier gull watching spot in the Midlands. Upon arrival a fine near-adult Iceland Gull could be found loafing around on the ice, attempting to keep its distance from the rest of the larger gulls that were present.  Unfortunately there was no sign of any Caspian Gulls amongst the few Great Black-backed Gulls, Herring Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  As the temperature dropped even more and a snow shower closed in on us it was time to head back home.

Iceland Gull (near adult) - Stubber's Green, West Midlands
Photo by Adam Archer
Upon arrival back home the garden was packed full of birds. Throughout the afternoon both male and female Great Spotted Woodpeckers made an appearance and a lone Mistle Thrush guarded a supply of rotten apples that I had thrown out.  Another unusual sighting was a pair of Pied Wagtails, the female of which defended the prime spot underneath the old Christmas tree that I had recently equipped with feeders.

Throughout the afternoon and evening the snow continued to fall. I could imagine seeing nothing other than 'garden birds' tomorrow!

Recycled Christmas tree complete with bird feeders

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