The weather has really shifted over the last week or two, and it now feels that we are truly saying goodbye to autumn, and entering the grey embraces of winter. Still, it isn’t all doom and gloom, with stunning displays of colour still remaining in the form of autumnal leaves adorning the trees of broadleaf woodlands. Despite the grey, wet and windy weather experienced in the last week, there are still plenty of birds around, and this has provided plenty of interest in between lectures and revision for exams.
Winter tit-feeding flocks are becoming a familiar sight in woodlands all around the nearby reservoirs and gardens, with some lovely scarcities hiding amongst the common species. The constantly chattering gatherings of Long-tailed, Blue, Great and Coal Tits have been joined Goldcrests and Firecrests in some areas (the campus and college reservoir seem to be the best sites for these cracking birds), although the latter have been a little scarcer. It was a very nice surprise this morning (9th) to come across a smart Yellow-browed Warbler amongst a small flock on campus- not every university is able to lay claim to frequent Yellow-browed Warblers on campus!
Thrushes have now well and truly pitched up in the surrounding areas, although no doubt some proportion of the thousands of birds moving through have continued on down to winter on the nearby continent. It has been great to see holly, spruce and hawthorn bushes covered in Blackbirds, Redwings and Song Thrushes, whilst loose flocks of Fieldfares and Mistle Thrushes appear every now and then in the farmland. Skylark flocks have settled into the stubble fields adjacent to our caravan site, and a few days ago I saw a singing male Woodlark amongst them! In addition, Starlings (in far lower numbers than I would like), Chaffinches and Linnets are all making use of the stubble and newly-ploughed fields around Mawnan Smith.
To the coast, the windy and wavy weather has produced some sizeable feeding flocks of Black-headed Gulls, but I haven’t been able to pick out anything particularly different as yet, besides the usual overwintering Mediterranean Gulls. I am really looking forward to when the winter divers and grebes build in number in the estuaries and bays around the coast. Perhaps the Pacific Diver will make an appearance soon?
Here are a selection of images from the last couple of weeks: