Some of you may have seen Chris Packham on TV last night with a Winterwatch special. He showed an old (no quite recent actually) BBC film featuring Cliff Michelmore and the winter of 1963 ( for our younger members I should add that snow, and lots of it, were on the ground for weeks. I remember it well! Actually all I can remember were long mornings reading in bed – and, the best bit, was no Latin homework!!!! I must admit not thinking about the birds much at the time – but things have changed. Over the last few days I have been sent reports of unusual birds in gardens due to the current “Beast from the East”. Steve, Irene and another Steve have reported fieldfare. Julie has reported redwing and blackcap, Jeff “lots” of blackbird. Sally and I have had two song thrush (the first for several years!), male blackcap, and a second garden record of a male pied wagtail. Steve has trumped everyone, however, with pied wagtail and a woodcock! And a great photograph too. He tells me that the pied wagtail is a bit of a bully but the one in our garden (below) is very timid and is at the very bottom of the pecking order.
When I was working as a teacher we had a very bad period of heavy snow (can’t remember the year). On the first “bad” morning I had to walk the 3 miles to school and arrived (on time) to find that I was one of the “few” – the kids, being local, had just walked in. After a lot of messing about (by the staff), the school was closed and I walked all the way home. The moment I sat down at the patio window to eat my late lunch (which I had carried to and from school) a water rail walked out from under a bush and started picking up bits of peanut under the bird feeders. Within a few seconds it was joined by a woodcock! Great bird watching and really amazing – the woodcock soon left but the water rail stayed around long enough for Sally to see it when she got home (after a very difficult day at her school – which had remained open!)
More reports please. Thanks to Steve, Julie and Sally for the photographs.