December 22nd   Leave a comment

The past few days have been the coldest I have experienced in Crail. I have a weather station in my back garden that logs things such as temperature and wind speed every hour. Every so often I download the data so that I have a record to relate to what the redshank and other birds are doing as part of my day job (which fortunately is not too different from what I do anyway). I have just been looking at the temperature plots for the last month. You don’t really need me to tell you that it has been cold, but in Crail terms it really has been exceptionally cold. We hardly ever get below freezing here. The sea is like a warm bath on three sides buffering us from really low temperatures. But yesterday and today the temperature has not gone above freezing and on the night of the 20th it went down to minus 5. On 21 days out of the last 31 the minimum temperature been below freezing and the maximum temperature has been less than 4 degrees. Last year in the same monthly period (which we thought was cold at the time) we had just 4 days with a minimum temperature below freezing and 25 days had maximum temperatures above 4 degrees. And the year before that (2008 – which was what I call a typical Crail winter) there were just 2 days with temperatures below freezing and all days had highest temperatures above 4 degrees. So it’s officially a cold year even in mild and sunny Crail.

The low temperatures are really tough on the birds. It doesn’t matter so much if it is cold, but the continuous freezing temperatures prevent easy feeding for most species. If birds can’t feed, they can’t stay warm and many will be dying at the moment. There is not a lot we can do about it except put lots of food out for them. If every household in Crail put out some food twice a day (if only bread crumbs or cheese crumbs) then it would make quite a difference.

Black-tailed Godwit

The birds are congregating in gardens where they are being fed and in sheltered areas where the snow is less thick. Anywhere by running water, including the shore, is a magnet because the ground is not frozen. Down at Roome Bay today, for example, there were about a hundred starlings, and many song thrushes, wrens, rock pipits and blackbirds along the beach. There were also a lot of waders, including several that don’t usually turn up there: grey plover, golden plover, snipe and woodcock. Best of all were two black-tailed godwits. This is only my second record for Crail. Hard weather makes birds move around a lot as they look for better feeding conditions. Crail, although cold, is still relatively warm so we should accumulate birds. Hence the woodcocks and the geese have now come back after leaving us during the slightly milder weather last week.

Posted December 22, 2010 by wildcrail in Sightings

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