Icy Solway Estuary during the Big Freeze by John Rogers
After a short thaw, snow and freezing conditions returned
On an icy cold dawn three Longtailed Tits came into feed on nut hanger.
Wigeon flying in onto icy pools on farm
Buzzard watching from a vantage point at the end of the causeway - North Plain Farm
Geese overflying a steadily freezing up Reserve
The cold weather was beginning to bite
Five Moorhen were roosting at the edge of garden orchard early morning. Interestingly, they were all facing outwards in a circle, as do partridge..
Frozen Saltmarsh at Campfield
Fox hunting along the marsh dubs
I'd been spotted
Moonrise over a frozen marsh on the Solstice by John Rogers
The freeze deepens and Iceflows begin to build up on the estuary
Link to video clip: http://www.flickr.com/photos/46441928@N07/5285790006/
Seven Longtailed Tits this time, on garden feeders
Today. however, a Water Rail which had been previously seen in the field drain which runs behind West Common hamlet, made its way under the cover of ditchside vegetation, to one of the garden feeding stations. It was very nervous of humans but seemed to tolerate other birds feeding there.
Water Rail on ditchside
Water Rail with Robin and Chaffinch
Water Rail picking seed under birdtable
Water Rail and Blackbirds feeding alongside each other
Woodcock had been seen frequenting Campfield Marsh roadside verges and had been visiting adjacent gardens in daylight now for several days. As many as ten were observed on one occasion, proddling in leaf litter under trees, for worms and other invertebrates.
Woodcock proddling in newly disturbed soil of this molehill whilst most of the ground round about was frozen solid.
Magpie was curious about the Woodcock's activities and even seemed to be copying ground probing action at one stage.
Woodcock alarmed by a fox which crossed the lawn nearby
Fox crossing lawn and totally ignoring the Woodcock which was sitting nearby
Magpies also interested in leaf litter under snow as a source of food when conditions generally were so hard.
Water Rail appeared again along ditchside and seemed to feed more connfidently on food put out for the garden birds
Water Rail wandering about on edge of garden lawn
Perfect camouflage amongst the vegetation.
Striding out along ditchside
Water Rail in resting mode
Picking about under birdtable with other birds
Picking at fallen seed
Gulping down the boiled buttered potatoes that had been put out for the birds
Water Rail still feeding the next day, further into the garden, with other birds
Water Rail not at all phased by a range of larger birds.
The freezing conditions and availability of food had made it more confident.
The thaw sets in at last and the Woodcock and Water Rail presumably returned to their usual haunts on the Reserve
"Moonrise over the saltmarsh" by John Rogers
Winter Solway, painting by John Rogers
After a good fall of snow and subsequent freezing condition Campfield Marsh and the Solway looked spectacular. Truly a Winter Wonderland.
Snow clouds over Scotland
A wintery marsh
Frozen marsh towards the viaduct
Criffel in winter sunshine
Frozen Dubs and Criffel
The first Snow - Campfield Marsh
After a frosty night, the morning dawned very cold and sunny. We were greeted with some splendid displays of aerial manoeuvring by, in the region of a 1000 waders, flying up and down the estuary over the mudflats - as the tide came in.
The Big Freeze continued. The pools and wetlands at North Plain farm have been frozen over for a few days now. 11 Whoopers were in evidence mid afternoon, sitting out on the ice in front of the wood. These visitors from the Tundra seemed quite at home in these conditions. They made good viewing from the hide for the visitors collected there.
Swans resting on ice
Swan stretching its wings
Up to 4 Hen Harriers have been regularly seen from the hide, hunting over the wetlands and raised moss areas. Today a pair were observed, late afternoon.
Hen Harrier hunting over wetland pastures
Small groups of Brambling have also been seen feeding with Chaffinches and Tree Sparrows in nearby gardens.
Brambling feeding with Chaffinches under seed hangers
A heavy fall of snow overnight, transformed the landscape. Birds and mammals, however, would be finding it hard obtaining food under this cover of snow. This Robin was relying on seed and scraps put out for it on birdtables.
As the freezing conditions continue and snow still lays on the ground, this Magpie could be seen eating snow, presumably as a source of water.
The field drain between our garden and Reserve had frozen overnight. Early this morning we noticed four Woodcock had come into the bottom of the garden and were proddling about in the leaf litter there, under the trees. Initially a couple of Magpies,, who frequent the garden, tried to harrass them but they were soon sent packing. The Woodcock continued to feed undisturbed. We assumed that their regular sources of food had become unavailable due to the ground freezing and that they were looking for alternate easier pickings in softer ground. Their success rate of invertebrates from under the leaf litter could be seen to be high.
Four Woodcock feeding early in the morning. A Bullfinch can be seen in the background watching them
With the continuing freezing conditions, ice flows were starting to build up on the estuary. A flock of grey waders landed on the tideline at high tide. Some of the birds could be seen coming in on the small ice flows.
Waxwings had been reported in Cumbria over the last number of weeks - but not here, however. This morning a neighbour in the hamlet rang to say he had four on his apple tree. Had barely got settled down to photograph them when one of our local Magpies decided to come and chase them off. So ended up with one rather poor record shot as they flew off into nearby trees - never to return.
Numbers of Woodcock feeding in the garden on a daily basis has now peaked at ten. They are probably roosting here at night too
One of those ten
Last day of this freeze up. As the thaw sets in, Woodcock depart - hopefully back to the Reserve!
5th January, 2011
This last week at Campfield, we have seen groups of various sizes of Barnacles passing along the shore around high tide, going towards Cardurnock from the Inner Estuary - and had speculated as to where their destination might be. So, yesterday (4th), having been to Kirkbride, we came back around the Cardurnock Peninsula and immediately struck gold ...large groups of Barnacles and Pinkfeet feeding on the marsh in front of Whitrigg. We tried photography as many of them were quite near the road but the light was extremly poor and fading rapidly - so we gave up with the intention of trying again on the ‘morrow.
The ‘morrow duly arrived with much better clearer weather. Proceeding towards Drumburgh and Bowstead Hill - nothing much on the marsh but we spied a large flock inland on the Easton to Fingland road - in excess of 1000 Pinkfeet, feeding on stubble. Unfortunately could not get anywhere near them to take a closer look.
We carried on towards Kirkbride and then back round the Peninsula again.. Nothing at Whitrigg this time but heading off through Cardurnock we ran into a large flock of Barnacles feeding on the estuary pastures - scattered over an area of half a mile. They were very mobile. We pulled up in the van and started photographing them. Small groups were continually flying in to join them. Eventually a large part of this flock grazed towards us and ended up some 30 yards away. The rain came on heavily but the light was OK and, although there was extensive farming activity and traffic movement, they were feeding happily along the whole area from Sandhill corner nearly to the hamlet of Cardurnock itself.
(Flickr video clip link: www.flickr.com/photos/46441928@N07/5328265752)
Small flocks of Barnacles have been seen moving along Campfield Marsh for the last week now.
Geese coming into land on estuary pastures where other Barnacles were already grazing
Barnacles were moving from field to field on estuary pastures along the Cardurnock Peninsula.
These geese came over the brow of the hill, grazing steadily towards us.
Vigilant Barnacles, having a look at us - but they did not fly!
Always on the lookout.
This group were within 30 yards of the road. They were undecided though, probably due to noisy farming activity nearby.
They all finally settled down to the serious business of grazing as the afternoon wore on and it began to rain.