Posted by: Ross Gardner | December 18, 2011

Winter birds on winter fields

I’ve been enjoying some proper winter weather.  There is something very wholesome about wrapping up against the rain and the chill and heading out to feel a sense of the season at hand.  This is of course, a very easy attitude to have, safe in the knowledge of a warm house to return back to – something not to be taken too much for granted.

I found myself walking in a corner of the Suffolk countryside.  A place where earlier in the year Field Poppy tinted the wheatfields red and where Field Pansy, Larkspur and Fumitory thrived in the neglected field edges and corners, and where the song of Yellowhammer could be heard from the hedgerows.  Now in the winter I found it complete with stubble fields and their attendant flock of Skylark and field edges where Goldfinch ravage the burdock seedheads.  Such agricultural countryside, full of life, is all too rare a find these days, certainly in the intensively farmed East Anglian landscape.

Jackdaw (Corvus monedula). Ross Gardner

The Skylark among the stubble were a wonderful and surprising encounter.  First a handful alighting as we walk across the field.  Then a dozen, all taking flight with a little chirrup that recalled their so very emblematic sound of spring.  Then more groups put up on our approach, until a hundred are so were on the wing, sweeping round to settle a ‘respectable’ distance from their intruders.  I’m not sure I can remember seeing as many Skylark together in one place before.

Birds seemed to be everywhere and in number.  Blackbirds chuckled among the hedges and at times mingled among the thorny scrub with the far travelled Redwing and Fieldfare.  Corvids swarmed over distant fields, Carrion Crow and Jackdaw abiding the company of their cousin and kin.  Gangs of Chaffinch foraged among the ‘weedy’ edges.  Huge flocks of Woodpigeon would appear over the hedgerows, spooked from their fields, perhaps with a few Stock Dove thrown in for extra measure.

No rarities to be found, just lots of life, enlivening what might be perceived by many as a drab winter landscape.

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