Tuesday, 13 March 2018

A look back at the beast

In the excitement of blogging about patch Hawfinches, I almost forgot to recount everything else I saw during the cold snap in the Swineham/Wareham area a couple of weekends ago. In truth, there was nothing spectacular, but plenty of common or scarce species were turning up in unusual locations, some surprisingly easy to see as the harsh conditions forced them into gardens or otherwise into the open in the search for sustenance. The highlights were a Firecrest in my postage stamp of a town centre garden, and an icicle-clad Spoonbill on the main gravel pit at Swineham. Sadly, two of this last species were found dead in recent days in Dorset: one had presumably succumbed to the cold, the other, which had two broken legs, was thought possibly to have snapped them trying to free itself from ice. An illustration of the harsh impacts of the freeze which, judging by the death toll chronicled on social media, befell many individual birds over the course of a few days. And a reminder to put some food out for the garden birds if the coming weekend's forecast of snow materialises.
Adult Spoonbill - I have never seen one with icicles on the breast feathers.
Black-tailed Godwit, one of several hundred on the frozen fields at Bestwall.
A few dozen Curlew were also present.
Fieldfares were in the gardens of Wareham.
Redwings were everywhere, including my town centre garden and this one in the town's churchyard.
Blackbirds were among the other thrushes in the churchyard.
Normally shy Song Thrushes seemed unusually bold in the cold.
Not a great view of a Water Rail - but any view is a good view in the thick reeds at Bestwall. This was one of three of this species out in the open.
This was the only reasonably sharp photograph of the Firecrest in my garden I could manage, snatched through foggy glass with shaking hands!
The first time I have seen ice floes coming up the River Frome!
Swineham Point inundated by a very high tide - Redshanks, Skylarks, Meadow and Rock Pipits were attempting to feed on the ice here.

Within hours of the last snowflake, the onset of spring seemed to resume: temperatures were back up to double figures and this Dunnock was belting out song as if to declare it had survived the harsh conditions.


  1. A bold but sad tale Thank you for constantly bringing this infusion of bird life into my fairly sterile NY garden where I keep a host of sparrows alive through winter with breadcrumbs

  2. You should have stayed on the patch for the polar bear on its ice flow