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!