Posted by: mynaturaldiary | January 21, 2018


Nithered: (verb) to shiver with cold. (Old Norse)

This fine Yorkshire word describes perfectly the conditions at the RSPB reserve at Saltholme.

Walking down to the Saltholme Pools hide was a female Stonechat.

Stonechat (Saxicola torquata)

Also a Wren, which are normally hidden in the undergrowth.

Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)

On Paddy’s Pool field were hundreds of Golden Plover, trying to get food from the frozen soil.

Notice how they move across the field, constantly searching.

Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)

On this visit to the reserve, they didn’t fly (which implies an absence of predators).

At Saltholme hide, the waters surrounding it were mostly frozen. When I got to the hide, the Wigeon were resting on the ice to begin with, sliding over it, making their way to the grasslands.

When they reached the edge, they jumped up onto the grass.

There are thousands of these birds on the reserve right now. They feed on grass and roots, constantly moving over the grasslands.

Wigeon (Anas penelope)

Out on the grass something eventually will disturb them (a predator or the imaged threat of one), and then the company of Wigeon will take to the air in search of security on water, or today, ice.

Once there, they huddle, with safety in numbers. All those pairs of eyes are more likely to see a threat than just one pair.

Eventually, a sense of calm returns and the birds begin to either walk to the grass, or fly to it in small groups.

And the cycle begins again…

They weren’t the only ducks there. Shovelers were in the distant Saltholme West pool.

Shoveler (Anas clypeata)

As were Mallard.

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Notice them making their way through the snow on ice in this video.


Another bird struggling with the ice were Mute Swans. this bird struggles to get to its feet and fails.

Another made it.

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)

Canadian Geese were also hunkered down in the snows.

Canada Geese (Branta canadensis)

The weather closed down so much, this one

bundled up under its wing and winked at the world.

Coots were sliding over the ice

to get into the waters.

They were also grazing on the grass.

Coot (Fulica atra)

Curlew were also there, flying by solo

Curlew (Numenius arquata)

Or in a herd.

Their concaved curved bill is very visible on the ground.

Lapwing were also out in the grasslands.

Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

The Black headed Gulls were still in winter markings.

Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)

Although this one hows signs of a darkening head, a precursor of spring?

Also on the grasslands were Meadow Pipit.

Meadow pipit (Anthus pratensis)

And hunting in the distance, a Grey Heron.

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)

Around the feeders were Goldfinch.

Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)

And Greenfinch, squabbling for the right to perch and feed; their flight frozen by the camera.

Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)

And also Long tailed Tits in the trees.

Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus)

On the field were Fieldfare –  a sure sign it was very cold.

Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)

Finally tucked away in the woods by a frozen flooded field

Our resident roosting Long Eared owl, hunkered down in the snows.

Long-eared Owl (Asio otus)


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