...especially if you're a bird. In case you haven't noticed, it's flipping cold outside.
I've been doing my bit to help at home. Garden birds here have been offered a full variety of foodstuffs, including apples, table mix (includes wheat, oats, sunflower hearts, maize etc), black sunflower seeds, fat balls, fat block things and, best of all, porridge oats. Porridge oats are dirt-cheap and loads of birds eat them. Even Reed Buntings, as I've discovered.
Much of the water locally is frozen up. It's hitting birds like Kingfishers, wildfowl, waders and herons especially hard, as they simply can't feed.
From the Bedsbirds email group:
"Sadly a frozen dead Grey Heron was seen by the bridge still standing in the water tight up against the bank and still in hunting posture"There are plans in place to help Bitterns, amongst other things; they're getting sprats put out for them at key locations. Which reminds me - stay off the whitebait.
Perhaps things will get better this week, as it's due to get up to about 3 degrees C on Friday!
Despite - or perhaps because of - the terrible weather, there have been interesting things to see. The garden list for 2010 (if there was such a thing) got off to a good start with our regular Marsh Tits putting in an appearance, plus the rarer species House Sparrow, Starling, Sparrowhawk and a female Bullfinch briefly. The latter is a garden mega!
We've had up to three Reed Buntings coming to feed, too. I've even seen them seeking out the seeds from the long grass surrounding the pond, which was nice to see. Now the garden's untidiness is justified entirely.
I visited my parents on New Year's Day. This was a very pleasant experience, but tinged with jealousy. They have two Fieldfares coming to their windfall apples. We don't get Fieldfares in our garden, only in the big tree briefly. If that was not bad enough, one came within three metres of the house to eat pyracantha berries. And I had left my camera at home.
Next morning I saw a female Blackcap coming to bathe in their pond. Haven't had a wintering Blackcap in my garden. Grrrr,
On Thursday lunchtime I watched a flock of 30 Redwings burrowing into snow-covered leaf litter in search of bugs to eat. They were getting right among the leaves, so must have dug through the snow to expose the leaves and their inhabitants. I like to think that birds are tougher and more adaptable than we give them credit for...
photo taken with Canon EOS 30D