Young may not survive the winter

PUBLISHED: 13:11 09 February 2007 | UPDATED: 22:33 28 May 2010

I have heard several reports of blue tits with eggs and great tits investigating nest boxes at the start of February. Sadly, the grim reality is that any blue tits that have laid eggs have virtually no chance of fledging any young. There simply won t be

I have heard several reports of blue tits with eggs and great tits investigating nest boxes at the start of February.

Sadly, the grim reality is that any blue tits that have laid eggs have virtually no chance of fledging any young.

There simply won't be enough caterpillars around for them to feed to any chicks that do manage to hatch.

It is occurrences such as this that make particularly mild winters a bad thing in the overall scheme of things.

No doubt there are many birds all over the country (particularly in the mildest south and south-west parts) that are doomed to suffer nesting failures.

Fortunately, there is plenty of time for them to get it right and lay their eggs at the correct time and hopefully their efforts won't have taken too much out of them.

Have you seen any bumblebees yet? I have had a few sightings of rather healthy looking individuals buzzing past at high speed.

I also saw a red admiral flying strongly at the end of January meaning I have seen this butterfly (which has traditionally been thought to be incapable of surviving the winter here) in every month of the winter so far.

Water levels on the Ouse Washes have finally dropped and conditions for viewing are much better now. Both the Welney and Sutton Gault roads are now passable and lots of birds are on view on the washes.

If you haven't been to either Welney or Welches Dam this winter, now is the perfect time to make a visit and see plenty of birds.

Welney is probably the only truly regular place in Britain where you can see the tundra bean goose in winter and, finally, a couple have appeared in the now improved conditions and are often to be found feeding in fields by the new visitor centre with a few pink-footed geese.

As the month progresses, we can expect to see the gradual departure of the smallest of our swans - the Bewick's swan.

They will hop across the Channel and spend time in Holland and neighbouring countries before continuing east to the Siberian tundra where they will raise their young.

If you see any flocks of high-flying swans, make a note of the direction they are flying.

If they are heading east or north-east (and are Bewick's swans), you are witnessing this emigration first hand.


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