Whilst out goose counting all day in relatively pleasant conditions ( for observers ) such are now begining to cause quite discernible changes to the activities of certain birds from those normally expected! Last night very low temperatures were experienced in many parts of Scotland and it is alledged that, currently our temperatures are lower than at certain locations near the South Pole, a fact I find difficult to believe but, if true, then salvation is the only solution!!!
I think I can honestly say that I have seen more Common Snipe today than in all the ten years that I've been here, and mostly in unexpected and unlikely locations. Birds flying south along Loch Indaal, in roadside ditches ( again), feeding openly on a football pitch and just appearing periodically, even opposite the house, suggested they were finding the conditions difficult and casting around for feeding areas. Similarly, a Woodcock flying south over open fields mid-afternoon was a little unexpected. Whilst thrushes were again a feature, a party of Twite frantically moving across a field looking for an unfrozen feeding area reinforced how desperate small birds were finding the circumstances.
An opportunity to overlook Outer Loch Indaal in the late afternoon showed a good array of all three diver species ( Great Northern, Black- throated and Red-throated) , which , hopefully, I shall have an opportunity to count this weekend. Black Guillemots in both transitional and all winter plumage were also dotted around and the odd party of Common Scoter.
In the fading rays of the sun a male Hen Harrier slowly hunted over a local rush-ridden field suggesting that the day's hunting had not been terribly successful up to that point! A species at the top of the food chain with seriously weakened, albeit few in number of prey individuals available, underscored how tough the situation must be.