Today is the last day of March and snow has only just cleared from the Pennine hills. The heaviest fall of snow this winter was on the 4th March when five inches fell in less than four hours. I was in the unique position of being able to observe roosting Long Eared Owls and how they coped with a severe blizzard. The snow would accumulate on their backs and heads and then every few minutes they would shake it off vigorously and then wait for it to accumulate again. Todays photo illustrates the terrible conditions that they had to endure. If you look carefully you can even see the ice on the ear tuft making it wilt. The gallery includes other photos taken during the blizzard. click here
There is little doubt that the most exquisite nest of any British bird is that of the Long Tailed Tit. In early March the dome of the nest is constructed and then by the end of March the search is on for feathers to line it. It takes up to ten days to line the nest with as many as two thousand feathers. They particularly like white feathers and some distance is covered during their search for these feathers. I have found five nests this week and the blog and gallery photos rate from one of these pairs. click here
On the 14th March the sunshine brought out of hibernation my first male Adder of the year. During the last week i have seen flocks of Fieldfares and Redwings but only thirty of each which makes it the poorest season ever for these traditional winter migrants.
Fifty years ago I visited Iceland for the first time and it made such an impression on me that it seemed the appropriate place to visit to celebrate my 70th birthday last week-end. We were treated to blizzards, gale force winds but no Northern Lights even so it was a delight to see it in Winter.
I expected that the harbour in Reykjavik would be full of Arctic gulls and while we only saw two Glaucous Gulls there were on some days more than a hundred Iceland Gulls present. Also present in good numbers were Eider Ducks, Long Tailed Ducks, Black Guillemots, Fulmars and even Blue-phase Fulmars.
The lakes in Reykjavik were mainly frozen except for one geothermal heated corner which had 50 Whooper Swans that had stayed in Iceland rather than flying to Britain in Autumn. Surprisingly these included a pair with their four young who may never know how to migrate!
A full day Golden Circle tour showed us Pingvellir, Stroker and Gullfoss waterfall all in deep snow and ice. It was dramatic scenery but the only birds seen were thirty plus Redpolls feeding in the warmth of a geothermal spring. Click here
An evocative name for the Icelandic Great Northern Diver. We have just returned from an extended week-end in Iceland to celebrate my 70th Birthday and not one Himbrimi was seen. The reason,of course is that they have all migrated south to the British Isles for winter and one young bird has already spent many weeks at Salford Quays. Now I never regard myself as a twitcher but a local Great Northern Diver, even if it was a first winter bird, was too much to resist. This weeks blog and gallery are of this magnificent bird and I had a rewarding three hours watching Himbrimi. It was interesting to note that any alarm calls from the Gulls on the Quays brought an instant reaction of fear from the Diver as would have happened on its breeding grounds in Iceland. Click here
Next weeks gallery will includes photos from our recent visit to Iceland.
Two weeks on Islay is never long enough but with good winter weather and plenty of wildlife to see this February was one of the most rewarding winter visits we have ever had. The Geese always provide a spectacle for the birdwatchers and this weeks gallery includes many of my favourites from our visit plus action shots from Islay’s special member of the Crow family the Chough. A visit to Jura in snowy conditions produced the greatest number of Red Deer that we have ever seen. These were driven off the hills by the snow and produced some good group photos.Click here
The big event back home this week has been the four inches of snow that fell on Friday morning. It resulted in 35 House Sparrows and 36 Goldfinches coming to the garden together with the first Siskin for some time.