Winter Robins

Winter Robins

The robin is one of my favourite birds because they are so obliging and friendly. One of the easiest garden birds to photograph. And I’m not the only fan – the nation voted the robin its favourite bird.

Here are some of the photos I’ve managed to capture of robins this winter. Currently the robin in our garden regularly greets me as I come back from my daily walk and he sits there on the bush near the front door as I struggle to get the pram through. I’ve started offering a hand of seeds to him – with a little patience, I hope to have him feeding out of my hand.

Advertisements

Wintry walks: the beast from the east

If you’ve been anywhere near a TV screen or radio or – god forbid – been outdoors, you may have noticed we’ve quite a bit of snow. I don’t remember snow like this for about 5 years and it’s so rare.

I’m not one for snowball fights – I have a very low tolerance for extreme temperatures in either direction – but I am one for taking photos when the landscape changes so dramatically. Here’s a few I’ve taken over the last few days as the office has been closed and I’ve been snowed in working from home.

Titchwell Marsh, Norfolk, December

The last birding trip of the year was to RSPB Titchwell Marsh on the North Norfolk coast. Home to all sorts of shorebirds and harriers and winter visitors, it’s a known hot spot, though I was still surprised to find it so busy on a windy day (the Norfolk landscape is flat and there was no protection from the wind for miles.)

We watched a marsh harrier hunting in the sunset, spotted little ringed plovers, and followed a curlew as it danced in the mud, pulling up large worms.

Ringed plover or little ringed plover?

 

A marsh harrier hunts in the setting sun.

Curlew or whimbrel? I never can tell!

IMG_1666

A squirrel on the feeder.

IMG_1682

A quarrel

Winter Birds

It goes without saying that winter can be a tough time for wildlife, but when the leaves have fallen from the trees it becomes much easier to spot birds and follow the tracks and signs of other animals. We also do of course get to see different birds, those migrants who have come south for the warmer weather, so it’s an interesting time of year. If you’re just getting into birding, please don’t pack away your bins til spring, as there’s plenty to see if you can handle the cold weather.

Now I adore cosy nights in as much as any hygge-loving soul, but I also get fed up in winter with all the time I have to spend inside so I make a real effort to get out on dry days. Here’s the winter birds I’m looking out for in my local area this season.

download

Hawfinch – a rare sight and normally a notoriously shy bird, in recent years we’re seeing flocks. There has been a large influx from eastern Europe and twitchers are understandably galvanized. They feed on the ground so you’re more likely to spot them in winter.

download (1)

Redwing – a countryside winter roamer, the redwing has a striking red flank and can team up in flocks with fieldfares.

download (2)

Fieldfares – A more colourful thrush, the fieldfare is a winter visitor and can arrive in flocks. Look out for them amongst the hawthorn bushes.

download (3)

Waxwings – surely the most glamorous winter bird, with its glossy, waxy coat and little tuft of feathers on the head. If you’re going to follow any of the links in this post, please follow this one to see a lovely video of a flock of gorgeous waxwings feeding on rowan berries.

download (4)

Brambling – annoyingly for a bird that looks remarkably like a chaffinch, it actually flocks with chaffinches, so can be difficult to spot!

images

Snow Bunting – robins aside, is there a more festive bird? Snow buntings are buntings with white feathers on their underside and migrate from the Artic and Scandinavia in winter. Can be found in flocks along the coast.

download (5)

Robin – reliable robin, always present, but only really gets attention at Christmas, with good reason. The UK’s favourite bird.

download (6)

Goldcrest – an elusive garden bird, they join mixed flocks in the colder months and their tiny beak favours pine forests.

download (7)

Blackcap – quite dull looking and often overlooked, yet quite pleasing and fluffy. I saw one this morning as I drove through a very treed area.

download (8)

Shorelark – they like coastlines and sometimes wander into fields and are really quite rare in the UK.

Whats winter birds have you seen so far this season and what are you looking forward to searching for? 

 

FYI these are not my photos, just from the internet.

 

How to help wildlife in winter

Dramatic headlines at the Daily Express suggest we are in for an awfully cold winter. It’s long overdue after several years of mild winters and hot summers. Freezing air is set to sweep in from the North Pole, bringing the UK four solid months of total whiteout.

It probably won’t be that bad in the end.  However, it will still be cold enough for wildlife. So how can we look out for our furry friends of the forest this winter?

Put out food.

  • Birds will appreciate their usual seed mix, with the valuable addition of an extra feeder for fat balls.
  • Squirrels don’t hibernate but instead rely on caches full of nuts that they’ve been busy collecting and hiding. Leave out nuts for them, as well as chopped fruit.
  • If you’re lucky enough to have badgers nearby that visit your garden, you might consider leaving them some leftover meat and cheese, as well as peanuts and fruits. They can’t always access earthworms when the ground is frozen and this is their favourite meal.
  • Despite a bad rep, foxes play a vital role in the ecosystem by predating rodents and rabbits, keeping those populations under control. They will happily snaffle up your leftover meat, bread and other scraps.

Melt a hole in your pond.

  • Animals need water and cannot get at it if it’s frozen. But don’t smash ice as this can frighten the wildlife within it; instead, place a saucepan of hot water on top to gently melt a hole.

Let your garden get messy.

  • It’s a horrible chore to sweep up all those beautiful orange leaves in autumn, so don’t bother yourself too much. Leave an area of your garden to go wild so that animals can hide and nest in it. Leaf mould is broken down by earthworms and feeds the soil underneath, as well as protecting it from winter weather. Chose an area of your garden you don’t mind losing – leaf mulch can bleach a lawn – or pile up leaves in a heap as compost.

Let your ivy flower.

  • Ivy flowers provide nectar to butterflies and bees, and as the berries ripen the ivy then provides food for birds. Overwintering insects and mammals even hide in the tangled ivy.

Don’t cut back hedges with berries.

  • Hedges, particularly hawthorn, can provide a much-needed source of food for robins, as well as some birds who migrate from Scandinavia to the UK for winter.

fox-715588_960_720.jpg

%d bloggers like this: