09 January 2011

Winter birds, and other things

Winter is always a good time to see unusual birds in the garden. This winter has been no exception as we have seen large numbers of redpolls and siskins, a fieldfare, 2 reed buntings and 3 waxwings. Apart from the waxwings (who were away before I had time for a decent photo) our most welcome visitors have been bramblings. We only saw these birds in our garden for the first time last winter, and then it was only the odd one or two birds. This year we have seen them every day, with a maximum of 10 birds present. There are 6 in the picture below, with 3 greenfinches at the top of the picture.

Bramblings are very similar to chaffinches in appearance, but with pink rather than white in the wings, a scaled pattern on the back, and a white rump.

Another unusual encounter on 22nd December was when this tiny goldcrest flew down beside me when I visited our local shopping centre.

On the same day I visited Victoria Park in Glasgow, where the swans and a number of tufted ducks were restricted to a small patch of open water, as the rest of the pond was frozen over.

For a couple of days at the end of December we had a freezing fog which covered everything in rime. Every plant seemed to have acquired thorns.

For more pictures, see the ice section of our website. This has just been given some extra publicity as the BBC mentioned it in their "Home Planet" programme broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday 11th January. Their reason was that they discussed ice spikes in the previous programme on 4th January. You can listen to both programmes by visiting the BBC Home Planet web pages.

Quite by chance this week I had the largest ice spike I had ever seen - 143mm or nearly 6 inches in height. The tray was 190mm in diameter.

Flight, but this time not birds. I caught this shot of a plane passing the moon.

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