Saturday, 24 January 2015

Benign winter birding

Winter. What, as birders, do we want from this particular season?

If it is a hard one, with snow and freezing temperatures on the continent, together with biting easterlies sweeping across the North Sea, we can hope for an influx of wildfowl, thrushes and who know's what else. But as exciting as such times are, the birds will undoubtably suffer. Do we really want that to happen? The flip side is for there to be benign, unremarkable weather - a bit like what we are 'enjoying' in 2014-15. Not too cold, not too wet and not too windy. But with the 'ease' that such weather brings, the birding is largely predictable. Locally it seems as if nothing much has changed since late November. There are few flocks out on the fields but they are unremarkable in number and composition. The finch and thrush numbers are poor - just where are the Redpolls, Siskins and Bramblings? But we carry on looking, we still scan the flocks, and we still skywatch just in case...

I spent a good five hours wandering across Canons Farm and Banstead Woods today which only underlined the 'same old, same old' nature of the current birding scene. 40 Skylark, 100 Fieldfare and 20 Yellowhammer were the stand outs of a meagre return although a single Lesser Redpoll found its way onto the 2015 Challenge list - species number 64, which is 71.1% of my target. The day was rescued by my bumping into Ian Ward, who helped while away the time with a bout of skywatching and, as the way of birders the world over, making increasingly bizarre predictions as to what goodies we might expect to come our way in the not too distant future - plus plenty of butterfly nostalgia!

We don't cut back the lavender in the garden until March as the Goldfinches will come and feed on the seeds throughout the winter - a good subject for trying out the 'new' bridge camera.


  1. No Waxwings either Steve. But as you know, the so-called eruption species have their cycles. They`d become run of the mill if they didn`t.
    Nice shot of the Goldfinch btw.

    1. Very true Dean. Just a little more variety wouldn't go amiss though, but we keep on looking, don't we...

  2. Steve, what bridge camera did you end up getting, was it the Canon HSx50?

  3. Hi Paul, I ended up getting the Nikon Coolpix P600. Seems to take a superior 'record shot' with minimum effort!