Friday, 8 January 2010

Starving Skylark

I chanced upon a flock of 220+ Skylark yesterday morning at the south end of Newbiggin in a snow covered rape field. They were attempting to feed on the few rapeseed leaves still visible above the snow, a conversation with Stewart last night suggested that this is now widespread up here as a result of the snow. The flock yesterday was approachable, individuals taking to the wing only at the last moment and never moving far. What saddened me was that many of them were attempting to feed on the adjacent road, presumably as the snow was less deep and some morsels may have been available on the tarmac.


Not many of the cars slowed down or even paid much attention so that they ended up playing chicken with the cars every few seconds. As I walked back to my car three birds fed on the road nearby and one simply lay down as I approached. Obviously weakened I picked it up and popped it into my glove for warmth but sadly it had died by the time I arrived home, probably from starvation. I went back later with 20kg of food and 'seeded' the field near the flock. I think this morning drove home how perilous a state some of our birds are in right now, so by all means go and watch them, enjoy the garden bonuses etc but stick your hand in your pocket and dump some food out there, not just in the garden but out where farmland birds like Skylark and Yellowhammer need it. If the 20-30,000 birders out there all spend £10 and put out 20kg each that is 600,000 kg of much needed bird food. Go on, get on with it.

14 comments:

Bob Bushell said...

The poor Skylark, he's blown up against this winters coldness. Lets hope that it finds the rape seeds.

Brian Robson said...

Very worrying Alan, noticeable absence of birds round my way. Long term effects could be disastrous.

Just set up a feeding station, though not sure if there are any birds about to use it.

Newton Stringer said...

Well said Alan and good on ya !

I have been feeding old christmas cakes and apples to the birds out side our place today, we don't have a garden so I cleared some snow and put it on the side of the footpath !

Everything is desperate for food right now... We all need to do what we can..

Tim Sexton said...

10kg of seed in the boot ready to take to Whitley Bay links at dawn.

Stewart J said...

First time ever for Pied Wag coming down for seed, helluva lot of imm Blackbirds visiting some looking distressed. Wondered why the tits ect were not feeding on peanut feeders first thing this morning till I went out to top them up, the metal stuck to my hands it was so cold (air temp minus 11.8 at the time). Temperature has not risen above -6/-5 for last couple of days here on the So Tyne.

The Liverbirder said...

I'll buy my food tomorrow and spread it about asap. The garden's feeders will also get a clean and spruce and 'refit'. You guys set an excellent example - so how can anyone refuse!

Earsdon said...

Watched BBC News 24 tonight Reports on husky sledging snowboarding and other such crap Not a thing about the starving birds Possibly the biggest wildlife disaster for years and the bbc doesnt report it ...

alan tilmouth said...

Thanks for all the comments and effort. I've emailed Ade Pitches at the local BBC tonight to see if we can't get something on the news tomorrow.

Killy Birder said...

I hope some dog walkers I occasionally run into are using what's between in ears too, and not allowing their dogs to run around reserves or anywhere else where their are birds, as the last thing the birds need to use their energy on is escaping from 'pets'.

In this situation garden birdwatchers come into their own, as they in my mind are the ones who regularly feed the birds. Like Stewart J I've had a Pied. Wagtail down at the seed today too, a garden first.

I hope your successful in getting this highlighted Alan.

Steve Lowe said...

Al

BBC did a piece on this earlier in the week and hopefully it highlighted the issue but will probably encourage garden feeding mainly. Perhaps folk could beg old fruit from local shops and use that to supplement things as well?

Mattzappa said...

Alan

Where do you get large bags of feed locally?

alan tilmouth said...

20kg bags can be bought for £8.50 at Laverock Hall Farm just off the A189 west of Blyth.

Steve Lowe said...

Yorkshire Trading Co in Cramlington have large bags for a tenner. Worth a look in Aldi as well as they often have large boxes reduced.

Laverock Hall is cheapest as Alan says.

Simon S said...

Just found this blog by accident but will be coming back. I saw someone asking where you can buy large bags of seed, I hear Costco near Metrocentre sells 10kg bags for around £6-£8, but I'm not sure what type of seed - though I assume it's some kind of mixed seed for garden birds. I will be doing my bit this winter, first winter in the area so I'm not sure what the neighbours do (though they have busy feeders at the moment) but I will be picking up the slack if I need to.