Birds are struggling to survive in the harsh winter conditions but it’s a good opportunity to watch them without having to move from the warmth of a living room. Those keeping bird tables well stocked and maintaining a supply of unfrozen water have been recompensed by unusual sightings: the RSPB have received several calls about woodcock and snipe visiting gardens. People who have long dreamt of attracting fieldfares and redwings are finally being rewarded, as these species lose their habitual shyness.
Competition among birds is fierce, as comments on Birdforum.net reflect. One poster heard loud screeching in the garden and saw a house sparrow had been plucked from the bird table. By a sparrowhawk perhaps? In fact, it was dangling from the bill of a collared dove, who had grabbed it by the wing as they fought over food. The sparrow managed to struggle free.
Photo of woodcock posted on Flickr by Ian Taylor