Hard Weather Movements

(Top photos: Lapwing, Rabbit and the Isle of May in snow)

(Bottom photos: spot the woodcock, Sparrowhawk and footprints in the snow)

Monday 15th February comments: So a flying visit to the Isle of May (to fix a generator) revealed the island carpeted in snow for only the second time in recent years. The photos and videos are in stark contrast to the ‘normal’ images of the thousands of seabirds, Puffins and Seals which are posted from the island. However it wasn’t just the snow which caught our eye on the visit as we noticed something else as well…

The week before the visit the nearby mainland had been battered by easterly winds bringing sub-zero temperatures (-22 degrees in Aberdeenshire at one point) and plenty of snow. These difficult conditions make it challenging for any wildlife including garden birds, so that is why it is vital to keep feeding them through these difficult times (did you notice anything different like Fieldfares or Redwings or larger numbers of birds than usual visiting your gardens during this spell?)

Anyway as the poor weather continued, birds started moving (hard weather movements) as they looked for alternative areas to feed and survive (looking for unfrozen ground). In some cases birds on the agricultural fringe will move into suburban areas or move south and on the east coast there were reports of Geese, Woodcock, Skylarks and Thrushes on the move. Out on the Isle of May it was evident that this movement was occurring as the island was covered in Woodcock (a count of sixty was made – can you spot the bird on the ground in the photo above?) as these birds could be found feeding in the unfrozen areas of the island (it made for a great sight). Other species which had moved included a Lapwing (sadly becoming a scarce visitor to the island these days as numbers decline nationally) and good numbers of Thrushes (Blackbirds, Fieldfare and Redwing) alongside sixteen Skylark amongst others. The islands resident three Short-eared Owls also remained.

We hope conditions start improving soon (the forecast is suggesting conditions are due to warm) and these birds can get back to their daily lives and look forward to the approaching spring. The weather has been tough but time for a change.

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