A Christmas eve walk is always eagerly anticipated, as not many people are about, and given the freezing conditions, with a strong, icy NW wind, that was certainly the case. Unfortunately the cold weather is a double edged sword, and as well as deterring human disturbance, it also keeps the bird life hunkered down !
You know conditions have been severe when the Robins stop singing, I havn't heard one sing for a few weeks now, and there was no change on that score this morning. As I left the house at 07:30 it was a struggle to find birds, and when I did they were seen mostly in just one's and two's, singles of WOODPIGEON, MAGPIE, BLUE TIT, CARRION CROW, HOUSE SPARROW, GOLDFINCH, JACKDAW and COLLARED DOVE were all that entered the notebook in the first half hour of walking, indeed the whole first half of my walk, some two hours out, covering the Tree Nursery, the Pub Field, Migrant Alley, the College Grounds and the Greenhouse complex yielded the scrooge like, miserly total of just 26 species! There were a few notable species, the SNIPE were still around at the same place ( see yesterdays photo) at least 5 were there today, two YELLOWHAMMERS flew over, as did 4 single SISKIN, the two MEADOW PIPITS that were seen on the manure heap at Migrant alley earlier this week, were still feeding there, along with the 2 WRENS, a DUNNOCK and a ROBIN, these and the COMMON GULL quartering the Pub Filed were the highlights of a difficult first half walk.
The second half of my visit was only marginally better, the shelter from the trees in the Small holding and Wet Woods was most welcome, cutting out the biting wind, but just 2 more species were added here, with a further 9 making the list at the lakes and scrub area, most of those were in a feeding flock of around 15 birds, mostly of course LONG TAILED TITS, but TREECREEPER, NUTHATCH, MARSH TIT and a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER were amongst them.The list was finished up with few BULLFINCH, maybe six in total, and flyovers by 4 LESSER REDPOLL, 12 FIELDFARE and 8 REDWING, bring the days total to just 37, well down on the 43-46 I would expect for a December day.
With the promise of warmer weather next week, comes the possibility of the lakes defrosting, but will it be in time to bring in something new for the months list, or even the year list ?
I'll be out again tomorrow to pick up my patch Christmas present ( a Waxwing!) so until then, i'll wish all the readers of these pages a Happy and Peaceful Christmas, enjoy all the food and festivities everyone!! :-)