Sunday, January 14, 2024

Cold with sunny intervals.

They are trying to frighten us again. 

“Arctic blast incoming! Britain faces a 383-mile blizzard as temperatures to plummet to -10C: Map reveals where 5cm of snow is set to fall with yellow warnings coming into force!” 

Of course using the number 5 makes for more impact than telling us that 5cm is less than 2 inches, not enough snow to wet your toe caps. But never allow truth get in the way of a good click-bait headline. 

It’s no surprise that hardly anyone buys newspapers nowadays, instead preferring to find alternative news and current affairs outlets on the Internet where an enquiring mind can delve into a wide spectrum of views and opinions rather than to read constant lies and propaganda. 

Rant over and excuse the pun but the headline cut no ice with me as I headed out on Sunday morning into the rising sun as a thin layer of ice swished from the windscreen. 

Into the morning sun
A pair of Stonechats greeted me at Gulf Lane where three parked and icy cars told me that wild fowlers had set out very early towards the marsh. The female Stonechat was more accommodating than her pal who maintained a safer camera distance.

I headed down Moss Lane where I hoped there might be a few Fieldfares looking for the last of the now threadbare hawthorns. Yes, and even a few Blackbirds temporarily losing their shyness to grab a few juicy red ones. 



Constant traffic, including sizeable farm vehicles, made the birds flighty and skittish with 30 or forty chuckling Fieldfares flying off and then returning within minutes. The light was poor for pictures so I set off in search of other birds, promising to come back with sunshine. 

Almost at the corner of Jeremy Lane a male Hen Harrier flew across in front of the car and carried on over the fields towards Glasson Dock/River Lune. It could end up almost anywhere, this one of two harriers, a male and a ringtail both seen with regularity and ranging across a large area for three or four weeks now. According to our Government Ministers, Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.

“Hen Harriers have enjoyed a better breeding season in 2023 whereby 141 chicks fledged successfully, the seventh successive year of population growth with 54 nests observed across the upland areas of England including County Durham, Cumbria, Lancashire and Northumberland."

Alternatively, a search on the Internet finds “Raptor Persecution” telling us that “2023 has been the worst year for the illegal killing of Hen Harriers on grouse moors since the ludicrous DEFRA / Natural England hen harrier meddling trial was given the green light in 2018”. 

Dear Reader. DYOR - Do Your Own Research and make up your own mind. 

I turned the car around around and tried again but the light was no better for Fieldfares hiding in the Hawthorns. 


Further up the lane I found 40 or more Whooper Swans and several Bewick’s Swans.  At Cockersands, 4 Cattle Egret, several Reed Buntings, 8 Goldfinches, 15 House Sparrows and a Barn Owl. 

Barn Owl

Whooper Swan

Starling male
 And yes, the sun came out again.  Maybe next week too, despite the Arctic Blizzards set to engulf us. 



eileeninmd said...

If I can I would avoid all driving in the snow, Yes I am a wimp. People here do not drive well in the snow/ice. A sunny is welcome, the birds tend to enjoy the sunny days too. You captured a nice variety of birds, a few favorites are the Stonechat, the Barn Owl and the Whooper Swans. Take care, have a great week!

magiceye said...

Love your beautiful captures and very interesting narration.

Veronica Lee said...

Your birdwatching journey in the chilly weather was a delightful read! Loved your take on sensational headlines - they sure know how to make a snowflake sound like a blizzard. The Stonechat and Barn Owl photos are fantastic, Phil.

Diane said...

Despite the weather, you did well to get these photos and I love the sunrise. The barn owl is my favourite but all great photos.
Happy and healthy 2024, Diane

Diane said...

I have no email for you so herewith is my comment on my blog:

Hi Phil the weather is rubbish here though it seems we have a good weekend coming up, though the rain returns on Monday. I am a bit confused by your comment!! That is easily done though these days! The Yellow-billed Egrets are the white birds on the ground and no reason to think otherwise. The two birds on the backs of the rhinos are not clear enough to ID but they are definitely NOT oxpeckers. The only bird I am unsure of was the Weaver which I suspect now is the Village Weaver (female) but a friend who is an expert will not commit himself. The African hoopoe is not only darker but smaller than the European bird.
Poaching has made such a difference to African wildlife. Rhinos used to be around every corner, now they are very hard to find and most have been captured and dehorned to try and save them, so very, very sad. Elephants have dropped in numbers but not to the extent of the rhino. The worst is when they poison a waterhole and not only do they kill the rhinos and the elephants but everything else that drinks there. The human race has a lot to answer for!!
Shadows Over an African Heart: by Diana M. Hawkins is worth reading but I read it with tears rolling down my face (see link above on the right of my blog).
We are off to Namibia. Take care, Diane

Lowcarb team member said...

Many thanks for sharing these lovely photographs, I always enjoy seeing the barn owl.

We've recently had Storm Isha pass through, and now they are already talking about Storm Jocelyn!!! I can't keep up with all the names.

All I know is in bad weather soup seems to taste extra delicious.

Stay safe, warm and well.

All the best Jan

Rhodesia said...

I hope all is well I see you are not getting any ringing done in this weather. Namibia is warm with some storms but I do not mind rain when the temperatures are high! Have a good weekend Cheers Diane

Wally Jones said...

Hope all is well.
You are missed.

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