Even in Spain, where it is a common, well-established breeding bird, the gorgeously colourful bee-eater (Merops apiaster) seems to have strayed out of the tropics. So imagine the impact when a pair arrived in County Durham in 2002 and proceeded to nest. Nevertheless, perhaps only in Britain could a couple of bee-eaters draw 15,000 people to see them. Two of the young successfully fledged. There have been other successful nesting attempts: in 1955 3 pairs spent the summer in Plumpton, East Sussex, two of which managed to rear 7 young between them. The most recent attempt to breed was on the coast of Dorset in 2006, but this time without any luck.
Photo from Wikipedia
As expected, small birds struggled to survive the big freeze: long tailed tits, who had prospered over a succession of mild winters, dropped by 27% compared to last year, when they made the top ten for the first time. The biggest decline was in goldcrest sightings – down by 75%. Losses would have been worse without the tremendous response to calls for keeping bird tables well stocked.
Another effect of the hard winter was a movement of countryside birds into gardens in their search for food. Sightings of redwings increased by 185%, fieldfares by 73% and song thrushes by 51%. Yellowhammers and bullfinches were also more frequent garden visitors. Continue reading Results of 2010 RSPB Garden Birdwatch
At first light, the sound of huge flocks of honking Pink-footed Geese fills the north Norfolk sky as they fly in from their roosts on the Wash. Back in the 1960s, wintering Pink-foots in the UK numbered about 50,000. Nowadays there are over 200,000 and about half of them are found in Norfolk. Continue reading Sugar beet and the Pink-footed Geese
Stephen Moss in the Guardian has put together this useful list of his favourite birdwatching spots in the UK: everything from huge flocks of geese, wild seabird colonies, red kites, rare birds, avocets and home-counties bird fairs. He recommends Caerlaverock, Castle Espie (“the perfect introduction to this avian wonderland”), Exe estuary (a boat trip is the ideal way to experience these wild creatures where they really belong), Farne Islands (“Watch puffins loafing around their burrow entrances, get mobbed by terns, and enjoy a chorus of kittiwakes calling out their name – simply unforgettable”), Gigrin Farm, Isles of Scilly, Loch Garten, Minsmere. Rutland Waterand Slimbridg.
Read in the Guardian