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.