Sunday, 27 December 2009


Looks like things have calmed down out there but..... the cold weather is set to return later on in the week.

Its been an interesting little spell of bird displacement. Typically Lapwings, Golden Plover, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Redwing and Fieldfare have been the main species affected with day highs of 181 Lapwing moving south and west, 24 Golden Plover moving west, 40+ Skylark (on the mounds as well as similar numbers flying over), 150+ Redwing, 75+ Fieldfare and 80+ Meadow Pipit.

We haven't seen these kinds of movement at Beddington since the early 1990's which could be attributed to a general warming of the climate. If regional temperature rise continues this could be the last one of these movements that we experience for a very long time.

Through most of the recording period of Beddington Farmlands, hard weather movements were a regular feature. On January 17th 1932 1215 Lapwings were recorded in hard weather. In 1955 over 3000 were present following heavy snow and on February 1st 1956 2000 Lapwing were part of a cold weather displacement that also involved 170+ coastal waders including 5 Sanderling, 23 Knot, Turnstone, Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, up to 54 Curlews, 57 Ringed Plover and 22 Dunlin. The same day Beddington's first and only Purple Sandpiper was found.

Skylarks have featured strongly in past hard weather movements. During a severe cold spell from December 17th to 26th 1938 several thousand were present on the farm and many hundreds died. In 1963 between January 23rd to 25th there were 3000 present but the largest hard weather concentration occurred on March 8th 1970 when over 5000 were recorded.

There are some interesting points here. Firstly it is interesting to see how Lapwing and Skylark numbers were so much higher in the past hard weather movements. These birds are from the north or the near continent and the much lower numbers involved in our recent movements reveal how although these birds are quite capable of surviving the worst conditions that our bleak northern winters can throw at them- they cannot survive environmental changes which are human induced. Both of these species are farmland birds which have suffered severe declines in the recent past decades due to agricultural intensification. I guess one saving grace is that due to human-contributory temperature rises these species don't suffer so much in hard weather. Could be nature's life line- keeping these populations going while we sort our act out.

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