Goldcrest. Warren Baker.
Seeing this photograph of the Goldcrest at an unusual head on angle which creates a quite comical look to this the smallest bird of the west Palearctic which can weigh in at its lowest at a mere 4.5g, reminded me of the reduction in numbers of bird species like this one and the Dartford Warbler since the UK suffered the coldest winter in 30 years when temperatures fell to a lethal -22 degrees centigrade on one occasion at Braemar in Scotland.
Some people were delighted to find birds they were feeding in their gardens which they had never seen before, birds like the Fieldfare and Redwing, not to mention some bigger surprises with Woodcock and Reed Bunting appearing on occasions.
Based on personal observations at several locations since our last winter I've collected clear evidence of a complete absence of Stonechats at some, and a serious decline at others, and at one location in particular the highest number so far this summer has been a count of nine Stonechats on 22 June, this at a site where a count in the breeding season in recent years could reach in excess of thirty birds. I was therefore not a little surprised to read in a magazine news article recently that initial impressions suggest that many individuals of Stonechat have survived through the winter of 2009/10 and that the bird remains a common sight on heaths, coastal sites, and uplands.
Marsh Harrier. Paul Foster.
A male Marsh Harrier comes in to land - with undercarriage lowered - into the reed beds at Leighton Moss, an excellent image with thanks to Paul for this, and to Warren for the Goldcrest above.