With Shetland having yet more snow and ice recently which forced the closure of Sumburgh airport and several schools, its a worrying time for wildlife. They have to survive the cold and often deep snowy conditions. Those that cannot feed need to move south to more open areas otherwise they will die. Migration comes early to Shetland as winter visitors move through from October on and sometimes only stay in Shetland for a short time to feed and build up enough energy to continue their journey.
Most Waxwings left Shetland by the 5 December, having spent a few weeks feeding up on berries, apples and pears.
Down in Sheffield, numbers of Waxwings have fallen from the 700 hundreds to perhaps just over a 100 birds, moving around trying to find berries.
In 2010 Sheffield experienced one of the worst winters since the war. We live on a hill and had 24 inches of snow making it impossible for ground feeding birds to survive in their normal woodland habitat. Most moved to nearby gardens or left the area.
Walking through the woods nearby no birds were encountered on the snow days , with only the occasional Robin moving back in a few days later, finding shelter in holly bushes. Other people reported wrens sheltering in nest boxes, in one 34 Wrens were found in one box, finding warmth together. Roosts of Pied wagtails could be found on top of buildings, at Meadowhall I counted 78 one evening.
So it is important to keep feeding the birds and also putting out water as well, with such as massive drop in bird numbers these last few years we cannot afford to loose any more. Birds like the Kingfisher move away from inland haunts to the coast where it is generally milder and ice free
Next Blog will cover the snow birds , keep visiting