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Sunday, 4 March 2018

The Beast from the East brings Fieldfares and Redwings galore!

'The Beast from the East' was coming....

This week has seen me continually reviewing every weather forecast for my area of Somerset, as the prediction of heavy snow had me buzzing with excitement like a little kid!
I love snow, but as a nature lover, my love has some reservations as I know lots of birds perish in freezing conditions. I took solace in the fact the bad weather was only due to last a couple of days, and I posted on my local Facebook Groups reminding people to put out food and water for the birds.
   The snow started falling on Thursday as I was at work. I kept looking out of the office window, wishing I was at home to enjoy this rare event. Here on the Somerset Levels, snow is unusual, the last Winter where snow 'laid' was way back in 2011! 
  My itch to get home was increased further when my other half, Nicola, text me to say there was a Redwing in the garden!! I'd only ever seen one briefly there before when it landed in my Flowering Cherry a few years ago before quickly flying off! 
  A few minutes later I was desperate to get home, as once again my love texted me, this time saying there was a Fieldfare in the garden!! I'd never seen one of them there in 25 years!! 
  The snow started coming down even harder and the forecast was of a lot worse to come in the next few hours, there was an unprecendated Red Weather Warning for snow from the Met Office for my part of the world, meaning risk to life and property! 
  At last, my boss decided to send everyone home before the worst of the weather came, and I drove carefully back to my village, before rushing inside my home, out into the kitchen and looking out into my little back garden with anticipation.... sure enough, there was a Fieldfare right in front of my back door, enjoying an apple my other half had put out. At the back of the garden a couple of Redwings were flicking up leaves under some shrubs that hadn't been covered yet with snow, looking for food, one then came down to the apple too.

Judging by Social Media, I wasn't the only one having Fieldfares and Redwings in the garden for the first time, people all over Somerset, and all over the UK had them visiting too! 

   I went for a walk in the snow with my family, everything seemed so peaceful as the flakes came down decorating everything in white, but with the wind it was particularly freezing.... absolutely bitter!
  We came home to find our 22 year old pet cat, Tao, dead in her basket. :(
 My 3 daughters were particularly upset. Tao had a very long life, she was a lazy cat, rarely venturing further than our garden, and luckily she wasn't a hunter, only catching a couple of mice in all her time. She was too lazy to hunt birds, and I loved her for it! 
  Curiosity killed the cat they say.... we started with 5 cats, 22 years ago, and she easily outlived all the others by 12+ years by not being as curious as they were! 

I woke on Friday to find snow about 6 inches deep in my garden!
I went outside, restocked the seed feeders with sunflower hearts, put some Suet pellets on the bird table and scattered some seed on the snow. I also put out more apples and replaced the frozen water in the bird bath. As I was out there, a Snipe incredibly flew through my garden just over the fence and disappeared somewhere beyond! I'd seen other Snipe in yesterdays walk around the village, and I saw another fly through my garden later too! 
They were obviously desperately searching for some uncovered, unfrozen ground to feed on.
  I spent the rest of the day with my camera in the kitchen, observing the comings and goings in the garden. In total I saw 24 different species, including the Snipe! I didn't count fly over Jackdaws, Crows, Rooks, Lapwings and Herring Gulls, but I did count anything that landed or flew through low over the fence, such as a Sparrowhawk that scattered all the birds but didn't manage to catch any.
  The best visitors were the Fieldfares and Redwings, plus Blackcaps, Goldcrest, Chiffchaff and Reed Buntings! The light was gloomy and I was shooting through my kitchen window, so some of the photos aren't the sharpest, but I did lay down and photograph some through the cat-flap at eye level! These were better photos, but much chillier to get!

Below are photos of  all my garden visitors during the icy blast from 'The Beast from the East'...

^Above^ - My small fenced off back garden in the snow, only about 8 metres by 6 metres in size!

^Above^ - Fieldfares (With male Chaffinch in bottom 2 pics).

^Above^ - Redwings.

^Above^ - Blackbirds.

^Above^ -Blackcaps.

^Above^ - Chiffchaff.

^Above^ - Goldfinches.

^Above^ - Greenfinches.

^Above^ - Chaffinches.

^Above^ - Long Tailed Tits.

^Above^ - Blue Tits.

^Above^ - Great Tit.

^Above^ - Coal Tit.

^Above^ - Starlings.

^Above^ - Pied Wagtails (with Goldfinch in bottom pic).

^Above^ - Robins.

^Above^ - Reed Buntings.

^Above^ - Dunnock.

^Above^ - Collared Doves.

^Above^ - Woodpigeons.

^Above^ - Wrens.

^Above^ - Black Headed Gull just before landing to take some bread in my garden.

^Above^ - Goldcrest.

^Above^ - Squirrel..... it wasn't only feathered visitors!

^Above^ - Cows sheltering by the treeline during a walk around the village in the snow.

^Above^ - Robin having a bath despite the freezing conditions!


^Above^ - Pied Wagtail.


^Above^ - Male Blackcap and Goldfinches on my feeder.

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