Golden Eagles And Hypothermia

January 24, 2010 at 3:37 am

Golden Eagle
Golden Eagles

I have just returned from four days in Finland filming a pair of Golden Eagles that were feeding at a baited site in the forest.

When I flew into Helsinki the temperature was minus 16°C and it went much, much colder. When I entered the hide at 7.30am the following morning the temperature registered a mind blowing minus 31°C and when I left the hide nine hours later it was still only minus 26°C!! In those nine hours I had incredible views of a pair of Golden Eagles as they came to search for food buried in the snow and ice. Unfortunately I had also to concentrate on keeping myself warm and alive! It was a bad start when I reached for my first cup of coffee and upon opening the milk bottle to pour it in I found it frozen solid. Several hours later it became worse when I bit into a Mars bar only to find it frozen like a rock.

I did, however, see a new bird for me whilst I was in the hide as four Grey Headed Woodpeckers fed on fat placed in a pine tree by the hide.

The following day I was due another nine hours in the hide but as the temperature at 6.30am was minus 32°C and I was still suffering from the after effects of the day before, and I still am, I declined and we returned to Helsinki.

There was a bonus in returning to the airport early for as I walked alongside a woodland I found twenty Waxwings feeding on Rowans. As Waxwings are my favourite bird I spent nearly two hours in minus 16°C filming them. My memories of Finland are of a very cold place!!

Jack Snipe Star of The Big Freeze

January 16, 2010 at 8:12 am

Jack Snipe

This week’s photo is one of the five Jack Snipe in a local ditch that have gathered all this week. Renown for being difficult to locate two to five birds have fed all week in the ditch and now with the snow rapidly clearing, the Jack Snipe have gone with it!

On Hopwood Buzzards are struggling to find rabbits and Woodcock are now down to one bird.

In the garden we have now had continuous snow cover for thirty days. On the thirteenth January twenty two species fed during the day with a record nineteen Blue Tits, three male and one female Bullfinches and both Moorhen and Fieldfare being present nearly all day. However, both female and male Sparrowhawks are also making daily visits but thankfully we have only seen one catch.

New Garden Birds

January 10, 2010 at 5:44 am

Fieldfare in snow

What a week of severe weather with record low temperatures and a foot of snow on one day

During the extreme conditions a Moorhen appeared in the garden feeding with the thrushes and then today, the 9th, a Fieldfare started to feed on the apples and chase off all the Blackbirds. It was pleasing to have regular visits by a pair of Bullfinches and Reed Buntings. Twenty species came to feed on the ninth.

On two days the snow has been so deep that I went out on foot locally. A Woodcock was still present feeding in a ditch along with Snipe but a Skylark calling as it flew South was definitely out of place!

The best sighting of the week goes to a record five Jack Snipe all feeding together in a ditch of iron water – the only area not frozen for some distance around.

Snow, Snow And More Snow

January 2, 2010 at 8:55 pm

Water Rail

This week’s photo, taken through the video camera, is of a Water Rail on the ice at Elton reservoir – a fitting climax to my best ever season in thirty nine years of filming wildlife. On the same day I also had great views of two Kingfishers that desperately tried to find somewhere that was not frozen. The last two weeks have proved to be a severe test of their survival into the New Year.

On the twenty first of December , whilst waiting for the train at Castleton railway station a male Blackcap was looking for food in the bushes – the only over wintering Blackcap I have ever seen locally.

After last weeks comments about Long Tailed Tits three appeared in our garden on January the second, in the blizzard. I fear for the large numbers that are missing from the post breeding flocks.

Virtually all the Woodcock that were present several weeks ago have now left the local woods, due to the deep snow, and are probably now along the coast.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all my readers a Happy New Year.