Impact of the cold Weather

The note below from Ken Perry shows the problems our birds are facing:

Yesterday (Monday afternoon) I decided to follow up on John Clarke's Sunday observations and found the Skylarks still feeding in a tightly-packed flock in the same area (about 50m north of the big roundabout on the Portrush side of Coleraine).  The main road between Coleraine and Portrush has been very slow in recent days with traffic passing by at <30mph.  The roads have been treated recently by the DOE with a 50/50 mix of grit and salt.  A low mix doesn't get rid of the compact skim of snow upon an underlying layer of ice so it's all quite dangerous.

However the main road (opposite two houses) adjoins a small 2-acre triangular field of rough stubble (covered with deep snow) with deep low hedges and suffice it to say that there were over a thousand passerines within the field foraging between and below the ground cover of stubble and weeds.  Clearly there must be the remains of some crop under the snow and 50 or so Woodpigeons were feeding away close to the smaller birds (800 Skylark,  50 Tree Sparrow,  40 Yellowhammer,  300 Chaffinches,   Stonechat 1).

I have never seen such a large gathering of Skylarks but that's only the beginning of the story as the larks were feeding out on the main road.  50 - 100 birds were playing games with the passing traffic.  It's a weird game as they forage directly in the path of the cars until the cars are so close they are likely to be hit.  Then they flush as one flock, rejoin their friends within the adjoining field and within moments a fresh group flies out into the road again.  This goes on all day as John and I discovered yesterday.

It may be that the DOE have used a type of grit which the larks find irresistable but as John discovered on Sunday cars were hitting some of the birds and bodies were strewn about.  The four injured/stunned birds that John brought home sadly died (John noted that the birds were very thin and in poor condition) and so I drop you this sad note just to flag up that this strange behaviour might be replicated elsewhere ..... ?

I've never seen anything like this before.  Very strange, and besides what were 800 skylarks doing in a Coleraine field in December !
Skylarks - John Clarke

1 comment:

  1. At the moment there are large numbers of Skylark feeding around Killard and lots feeding along the side of the road. I have a bag of Jollyes Wild Bird food which I have mixed with Jollyes budgerigar no2 mix and i carry a 10litre bucket in the car and have been putting it out for them.