7 Dec 2008

Even colder weather!

Its been bitterly cold weather again in the fair county of Cheshire. Flying back into Manchester airport Thursday, after trip to France, the peaks were covered in snow but even though we had escaped the snow a heavy frost hardened the ground and turned it white. The first sign of a cold weather movement of birds were the four Ravens feeding in a local stubble field with Carrion Crows. These could be the birds that nested at Shell but could also be Welsh birds forced off the hills because of the cold snap. A good local count of 200+ Lapwings shared a flooded arable field with 30+ Pied Wagtails and things were looking promising for further cold weather movements.

With Christmas shopping taking up most of Saturday morning it was late afternoon before I got out into the field! No sign of the Ravens but masses of Redwings and Fieldfares. Bitterns reported at Moore & Marbury reinforced the notion of a cold weather movement whilst the Dee hosted the highest number of Hen Harriers coming to roost at Parkgate than anytime this century.
Sunday dawned with temperatures at -2 C! Walking towards the woods four Waxwings flew over heading east but declined to stop on the berry laden Guilder Rose bushes! All the ponds in Stanney Woods had frozen over but the lack of other feeding areas had driven a Grey Heron in to try its luck along with a Grey Wagtail. Both unusual birds to see deep in a wood!

The rising sun pierced the frozen wood giving some fantastic atmospheric photo oppurtunities. Meanwhile other birds were a bit thin on the ground with only the Nuthatches being they're usually noisy selves.

With garden chores completed it was time to wander the local fields again in search of something new. The flooded field still held its large flock of Lapwing but suprisingly there were three Snipe out in the open around the edge of a frozen pool of water. I've very rarely recorded Snipe in this area so three was a major bonus. A closer scan revealed another two - making 5. Even rarer! Whilst working my way closer another 3 flew up form where they'd been roosting amongst tussocks in a cow field - 8 Snipe. A patch record.

Although not rare these Snipe made the whole weekend worthwhile. Just finding these and knowing they're part of a cold weather movement keeps the momentum going - one day there'll be a real rarity amongst the commoner stuff. I'll keep looking......................................

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