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More snowbirding

Posted by on January 10, 2010 8:25 PM | 


Marshside was still in the tight grip of ice and snow this morning, but mighty purrty while the sun was out.
Inland of the Coast Road was predictably quiet, with a few small groups of gulls and wildfowl, clustering round what open water they could find and the occasional foray by a Merlin to liven things up.
Seaward of the road was a different story - a good 5,000 Pinkies strung out along the marsh, all trying to find food in the snowy wastes.


The Barnacle Geese were still scattered amongst the Pinks, really standing out against the snow, but I failed to pick up any of the other goodies that have been lurking in this flock for the last week or two.
The horrible hybrid "blue phase Snow Goose" lookalike was there, but the Whitefronts just weren't playing ball.
A few hundred Skylarks on the outer marsh were frequently spooked by Merlins - several of 'em were working the area hard today, darting and zipping about after prey, before perching up again to assess the situation.


Nice male Hen Harrier having a similar effect on the larks too.
On the way home a female Sprawk creamed a Mipit over the dunes, and back at Dempsey Towers, Redwing and Fieldfare joined the garden feeding melee.
Eyes to the skies everyone, eyes to the skies...



The big flock of passerines Paul mentioned near the Lighthouse pub in Formby are Skylarks - also a Barn Owl hunting near Childwall golf course last night.

The latest results from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) show Britain’s birds are flooding into gardens, as food in the countryside becomes harder to find under the
blanket of snow and ice.
The results from the BTO Garden BirdWatch survey show huge increases in the use of gardens by birds as they
come in search of an alternative source of food. For some species this increase has been dramatic. Redwing and
Fieldfare, both types of thrush that breed in Scandinavia, have shown an increase in the use of gardens by 283%
and 267% respectively compared with a normal winter.
It doesn’t stop here though. For forty species the percentage of gardens in which they occurred increased
during the current snowy weather, with particularly large increases in thrushes and buntings. Reed Bunting and
Yellowhammer, both small birds belonging to the bunting family that would ordinarily find refuge in Britain’s farmland, have increased by 134% and 80% respectively!
Dr Tim Harrison, BTO Garden BirdWatch, commented, “It is amazing to see the dramatic effect the weather
has had on our wild birds. The increase has been most marked in the ground feeding species that are using the
food put out by householders. Such provision could make the difference between life and death.”
He added, “It’s also thanks to our Garden BirdWatchers, who record the birds in their gardens every week
throughout the year, that we can see how our birds are doing right across the UK during these extreme weather
To see just how these birds are coping see Snow Watch on BBC 2 Wednesday at 8.00pm
For more information on the BTO Garden BirdWatch survey and how to get involved, telephone 01842 750050
and ask for the GBW team, or write to GBW, BTO, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 2PU, or visit,

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