Birds and the Beast from the East
I couldn’t help laughing today as I launched into my weekly examination of avian news. My amusement was due to an article I was reading which explained how spring is coming earlier and earlier. This side effect of climate change causes issues for migrating birds as I have discussed elsewhere on this blog. So, nothing funny there you might think. Except that it is now March and what I can see from my window could be mistaken for the Arctic!
A World of White
There was a huge snow dump in the night and the world has turned white. Great news for my dogs who love playing in any conditions which result in them getting soaking wet and filthy. Not such good conditions for the birds.
Britain has endured freak weather conditions for two weeks due to the phenomenon which has been dubbed the Beast from the East. This arctic blast emanating from Russia has wreaked havoc with the climate in the UK, leaving birds hungry and forced to travel outside of their comfort zones in search of food.
Social media has been awash with sightings of various species in unusual places which have been driven from their usual habitats into other areas in search of a meal. Snipe and Woodcock were reported in North Wales gardens and Redwings and Fieldfares were driven into all sorts of places up and down the country looking of berries.
Birds at the Beach
Raptors were also pushed towards the coast - Red Kites and a Hen Harrier were sighted near Conwy amongst other coastal locations. Meanwhile the more intrepid twitchers of Britain have been descending on Weymouth where there have been sightings of Ross’s gulls. These tiny seabirds are adapted to life in the planet’s most inhospitable regions and rarely drift south of their breeding grounds in Greenland and Siberia. But the Beast from the East has seen them arrive on the south coast of England. Some wags have dubbed this species the gull from the pole. Well, it almost rhymes!
Life Threatening for Birds
Snow may be inconvenient for us humans but it is life threatening for garden birds. During extreme weather events, it is incredibly important to provide food for the birds who suddenly find themselves without a natural source of nutritious meals. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has stated that garden feeders could literally be the difference between life and death.
If you don’t have bird feeders, do invest in a few, together with nutritious foods. It is becoming increasingly difficult to predict when bad weather will strike the UK and it will always help the birds if you are ready with your feeders, seed and suet fat balls for when the conditions take a nosedive.
Spring may indeed be coming earlier and earlier as time goes by but that doesn’t mean that it will arrive on cue. It is still very much winter across much of the country as I write this and I am beginning to wonder what will happen next. Will we have snow in May this year? Anything is possible!