Saturday, December 26, 2009

Ice Drive

The idea was to put out some bird food at Rawcliffe Moss and then have a wander round birding. The drive down to the track was both interesting and educational as I negotiated the narrow sheet of ice at about 10mph, luckily without meeting any vehicles coming in the opposite direction. I don’t think I will be taking up Scandinavian ice driving though.

After a week of snow and ice the Tree Sparrows are still around, if in much reduced numbers, and I counted 110 this morning with the usual 12-15 Chaffinch, 2 Dunnock, 9 Starling, 3 Yellowhammer, but only 3 Blackbirds, a couple of Jackdaws and several Wood Pigeon. I dumped another bucket of seed. That should keep them going for a few days but not if more snow covers it.


Looking west I could see six Roe Deer in the stubble of the next farm over but they quickly disappeared over the brow and out of sight before I could raise the camera. I decided that not only was I visible against the expanse of snow and ice behind me, I was also making a lot of noise by crunching over the packed icy roadside in an effort to avoid the slippery vehicle tracks. I persevered a bit longer by where possible sticking to the virgin snow enough to disturb 6 Grey Partridge from under a hedgerow and a mixed party of Chaffinch with several Blue Tit and Great Tit, but it was noisy, slow progress from me.

I walked through the wood where at least I wouldn’t be as visible or clatter over the ice, just the winter brash of fallen branches. In there more than 30 Woodpigeon exploded from the tree tops with a few extra Blackbirds and a single Song Thrush rummaging through the litter.

Rather than spend more time trudging through the deep and crisp and even to no avail, I decided to return the bucket to the barn and maybe use a little time with camera at the ready to see what turned up. Up there the Dunnocks and Robins quarrelled amongst themselves over possession of the best bits of the farm bric-a-brac, the jumbled mess of old discarded machinery, the rattling plastic and muddy chaos of daily ins and outs, whilst a couple of tail in the air Wrens rattled around the nooks and crannies of discarded timber.



It was the alarm calls that alerted me that a Stoat Mustela erminea was also mooching through the long left bits and pieces, but the birds were watching it and so was I.



Apparently Stoats mate once a year and the female is pregnant for 11 months, which is a long time for such a small mammal, and while they have several youngsters which are called kits, the males do not help in raising them.

I hadn’t seen a Grey Wagtail for a week or two but without warning one reappeared in the usual spot.

Grey Wagtail

Grey Wagtail

And another late lunch.


Tabib said...

Great Boxing Day outing and birding.
That Grey Wagtail looks familiar, winter migrant here.
Happy Holidays!

Unravel said...

Woww that Stoat is super duper cute!
I've just seen something similar several days ago too.
The picture is here >>
Guess they're relative somehow.

Phil said...

Hi Chaps. Happy holiday to you both.
Stoats do look cute but can be fearless predators, taking full grown rabbits for instance. Wouldn't want one to bite me. Cheers. Phil

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