The positive effect of the previous week's severe weather on the numbers of birds and variety of species came as no surprise. They were recorded as part of the latest annual Big Farmland Bird Count. As pleased as we are to see so many of them - avian refugees from the even colder part of the UK and beyond - for many it's a less than positive experience, struggling to extract food from frozen soil and find shelter from the biting NE wind. Our long-harvested fields - to human eyes untidy, weedy and derelict - are a life-saving resource.
In the half hour allocated, I counted over 200 birds of 23 different species. Almost half of these were Skylarks – a flock of around a hundred. The others, such as the small parties of Linnets, Goldfinches and Chaffinches, the eight Meadow Pipits, the five Dunnocks foraging together around the compost heap, the several Blackbirds, Song Thrushes and Fieldfares, the lone Snipe; these are examples of the current influx of their species. Even before the freeze, Snipe, and the usually secretive Woodcock, have been a recent feature of the Farm, mostly an individual seen in rapid flight. No doubt our full ditches and waterlogged fields are of great appeal to them.
Image: Will Bolding