Thursday, 11 December 2008

Winter Wildlife pt1

One of the main reasons we moved out of London to live in Cambridgeshire was love of wildlife. Where we live in Cambridgeshire or to be more accurate the old county of Huntingdonshire is famous for being very flat, we live on about the highest point about 250ft above sea level. This means that in the winter we are prone to very cold winds heavy frosts.

The land around here is principally used for arable farming and at this time of year next years wheat and oil seed rape are begining to show in the fields.

So what about the wildlife, well we get lots of wader flocks on the fields which I will talk about another time but also birds of prey. We have a very good owl population locally with Barn, (see photo) Tawny and Little owls. These have a tough time at this time of year, firstly their food supply the small mammal population is very scarce at this time of year retreating underground or into nests to keep warm. Owls will tend not to hunt in wet weather as their plumage lacks the waterproofing of other birds, this allows the feathers to remain very soft allowing silent flight.

Another local bird of prey has worked out his own strategy. we have a Common Buzzard Buteo buteo that spends his day hunting from the top of a large muck heap just outside the village. This gives him several advantages. The muck heap is the highest spot in the field which affords him an excellent view of any rabbits stupid enough to venture out. A local farmer has told me this is an excellent year for rabbits. The other advantage for the buzzard is the heat the heap generates, Not only does this keep him warm, meaning he has to expend less energy but it also attracts rats. Buzzards are lazy hunters happy to take carrion rather than hunt. So it must really suit this one if his lunch is litrally running around his feet.


  1. Hello Gary, I like your Buteo buteo. It is great with the countryside and wildlife, it's the same for me to be able to wake up in the morning and breathe clean air and look out of the window and see the sky, it is certainly great and wonderful. Tyra

    New Post from Tyra - Leufstabruk

  2. Thanks Tyra, You have some fantastic wildlife in your country, I keep meaning to go birdwatching in Scandinavia. Gary

  3. We see buzzards over the cottage regularly , they nest in the very tall pines in the woods alongside the house. I love the meowing they make as they soar on the thermals. We have many owls too, but mostly we see and hear the Tawny owls. They wake us sometimes when they settle on the chimney for a Twit Twoo contest with another nearby. I am a country girl through and through and can't imagine living in a city, although the other half is a townie (Bethnal Green) and like you , he relishes the countryside too and can't imagine ever wanting to move back.

    I am just off to check out your photo blog!


  4. I love your photo of the beautiful owl. I really can't get enough of wildlife. I'm always amazed and totally entertained.

  5. That buzzard has certainly found the easy life! We have a number of raptors that I enjoy watching around here. Actually, I never see the owls, just hear them hooting in the darkness. The Turkey Vultures soar on the updrafts, never flapping a wing. There's one bird that I haven't been able to identify, other than that it's a raptor, that can face into the wind and hover over the hillside, just occasionally flapping it's wings. The Cooper's hawks come swooping through the trees after prey. It's all so fascinating.

    Thanks for sharing your birds with us!

  6. The owl in fact looks cute like a baby. Wish I were in a countryside. Though I always tell people that I'll, being born and brought up in city, feel lonely in a village but I miss the birds visiting us in the city. Even in another city called Bangalore, Eagles and other common birds visit you, but in Chennai (the city I live in) all you can see is crow and pigeons and very rarely parrots and really few sparrows/cuckoos

  7. We have buzzards here too Gary plus tawny owls, the latter wake me up at certain times of the year! The barn owl's my favourite though.

    Thanks for your comments on my Undecided post yesterday. I'm really looking forward to my Hortus subscription next year - provided Santa comes up with the goods of course ;)

  8. In the summer the Barn owl patrols the hedge at the end of the garden. I saw one yesterday morning hunting alongside the road and the buzzard was there today.

  9. I enjoyed reading about your birds of prey. The photos are awesome!

  10. I did not know that owls did not have waterproof feathers. That it why you see them on clear nights!
    Thanks for the interesting information!

  11. Thanks for sharing, I will bookmark and be back again
    water proofing chennai


Thank you for your comments.