Posted by: mynaturaldiary | November 19, 2017

Winter is Coming

It was cold enough to partially freeze the lakes at the RSPB reserve at Saltholme .

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

You can see this Mallard duck dabbling for food at the waters edge where the ice begins.


Moments like these remind me of how hardy wild birds are – the water must be freezing cold, and yet the ducks just get on with the daily round of survival.

The Teal were in the same predicament. At the waters edge it had frozen.

but in the middle of the lake all was still ok.

Teal (Anas crecca)

Wigeon are partially land based, where they feed on grass.

Wigeon (Anas penelope)

At the slightest sign of danger, they fly en mass onto the waters at a low height.

Where they slowly congregate together

before breaking off one by one, back onto the grasslands. Notice their nodding head action, signalling they are about to fly.

They were also on the ice.

The males are all displaying the distinctive orange head stripe that they show in winter on their chocolate brown heads.

Another duck sticking only to the open waters was this Shoveler.

Shoveler (Anas clypeata)

This Redshank put on a wonderful display of hunting before Saltholme hide.

Redshank (Tringa totanus)

Lapwings were on the ground

Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

and in the air

together with Starlings. More of them later at the end of this post in a murmuration.

Other waders that took to the ground and the skies were Golden Plover.


Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)

It’s in the air that they seem to come to life as they wheel around in cloud like formations

before landing.

Now, some smaller birds. First, Greenfinch.

Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)

And a Reed Bunting

Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)

And a Blue Tit.

Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)

Geese seen were Greylag Geese

Greylag Goose (Anser anser)

And Barnacle Geese.


Barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis)


We also had special visitors – Whooper Swans.

Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus)

Their yellow bills mark them out from Mute Swans.

Very elegant birds indeed.

About this time of year, tucked away on the reserve are Long Eared Owls. They have returned again.

Long-eared Owl (Asio otus)

Long may they come back.

And finally, the murmuration I murmured about earlier. Starlings are on the reserve all year.

Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

At this time of year, our reserve hosts thousands which fly in the complex patterns we call a murmuration, before settling in the reed beds for the night.

A wonderful sight indeed.


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