As December opens the doors of winter I wonder what kind of winter we will have this year. Will it be mild or harsh, whatever is coming there’s nothing we can do to change it so we will deal with it as we usually do.
While we may turn the thermostat up and add a layer or two of clothing the wildlife have far fewer choices so this is just a reminder to keep those bird feeders topped up, they are essential in bad weather.
In the last few days of November the east coast has seen huge arrivals of thrushes from Scandinavia, Spurn point saw nearly 4000 blackbirds, 2715 fieldfares, 7415 redwings and 64 song thrushes in one day. Because Spurn bird observatory is manned every day of the year their observations are of great interest to us here in Lincolnshire because of course we are only a hop across the river and so many of these birds come here. Of all those numbers, the song thrushes are especially welcome as the UK’s population is still pretty low.
We have also had an decent influx of various leaf warblers, yellow browed, pallas’s and of course those delightful goldcrests that I find so irresistible to photograph.
So what else has been happening lately? Well two of my favourite winter visitors have returned, the short eared owls and those entertaining Brent geese. The shorties will almost certainly be continental birds that have spent the summer months on their breeding grounds in Russia, Iceland and various parts of Scandinavia while the Brents have summered up in the high arctic, Canada, Greenland, Iceland.
Sitting on the edge of the salt marsh on the Humber Bank watching the flocks of Brent feeding among the old samphire beds a shadow crossed over me and a short eared owl quietly winged its way along the dunes looking for unwary field voles or small birds. I was already in a good position to photograph it if it came back this way and I was sure it would.
Not only did it return about fifteen minutes later but it obligingly flew round me three times. I don’t know if that was some kind of lucky sign but it was certainly lucky regarding getting some great images.
I lone whooper swan battled its way along the sea bank toward me and looked like it had lost contact with the rest of the flock. It flew right over my head which was good of it !
Have you heard the sound of wild geese in the last three or four weeks? They will almost certainly have been pink footed geese and the numbers seem to be well up this year. Their favourite Lincolnshire wintering area seems to be the upper reaches of the Humber around Barton and South Ferriby.
Finally while walking along the coastal path near Donna Nook this chinook helicopter fired off all its flares at once, what a firework display!