Female Blackcap in winter.

Throwback Thursday travels back to Cheshire in the early 1990s. This is a female Blackcap feeding on a windfall apple in the winter. Sometimes known as the Eurasian Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) it is a member of the Warbler family. The male Blackcap has a black cap on its head, the female a brown cap.

They were traditionally a summer visitor, arriving in the U.K. to breed. However, in the 1980s a few birds were being recorded in gardens in the winter. In the early 1990s when this photo was taken they were still uncommon in the winter. A few years later they were becoming common. If I recall correctly this bird was reported to the county recorder for inclusion in that years county bird report.

Since then numbers have continued to increase. Research has shown that the winter birds are different than the ones that breed in the U.K. in the summer. The wintering Blackcaps arrived from Germany. Isotope analysis has also shown that the German birds wintering in the U.K. tend to mate with other Blackcaps that wintered in the U.K. when back in Germany for the summer.

Another interesting point is that Blackcaps prefer mature deciduous woodland for breeding in the summer while the birds that arrive from Germany to spend the winter prefer gardens. It’s thought that the birds started wintering in the U.K. because of the milder winters and the availability of food with people feeding birds in their gardens.

Wintering female Blackcap.

Frozen lake at sunset.

Actually, quite a small section of Last Mountain Lake at sunset in winter. Throwback Thursday travels back to Saskatchewan, Canada in the late 1990s.

Last Mountain Lake, also known as Long Lake, is approximately 93 km long but only 3 km wide at its widest point.

The northern section, where this shot was taken, is the Last Mountain Lake National Wildlife Area. The area is a major staging ground for Snow Geese on autumn migration along with other wildfowl and Sandhill Cranes.

Frozen lake at sunset.

Black-capped Chickadee taking flight.

Throwback Thursday travels back nine years and about 7 metres (approximately 23 feet) from where I am sitting typing this post. Taken during the first winter after we moved here in the autumn.

It’s also a follow-up of sorts to last week’s Throwback Thursday as both photos were taken the same day. They were taken when I was testing a 1.4x teleconverter, used to increase the magnification of a lens by 40%.

It shows a Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) taking flight. Unlike last week’s Red-breasted Nuthatch we’ve still got lots around the feeders and yard this winter.

A Black-capped Chickadee taking off.

Red-breasted Nuthatch.

Throwback Thursday only travels back about nine years. A follow up of sorts to my Wordless Wednesday post yesterday as the shots were taken a couple of weeks and maybe a distance of five yards apart.

There’s a reason why I picked a Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) for this Throwback Thursday post. The species had been a regular and common visitor to the yard and feeders since I moved to the area 10 years ago.

Until this autumn that is. After having a yard full of adults and young early in the autumn I’m now hardly seeing any. I hadn’t really noticed the dramatic reduction in numbers until I read something online about large numbers of Red-breasted Nuthatches moving into the north eastern U.S. from Canada. It’s thought that the conifer seed crop in Canada is low causing the birds to head south for the winter. Since reading about the irruption a week or so ago I have seen only two birds in the yard, a few days apart.

This article gives more information and probably explains why our Purple Finches have also disappeared.

As the cap on top of the birds head is black this is a male Red-breasted Nuthatch. Females have a slate grey cap, the colour of the back and wings.

Male Red-breasted Nuthatch.

 

Redwing eating a Holly berry.

Throwback Thursday travels back to Cheshire, England in the mid 1980s.

The Redwing (Turdus iliacus) is a member of the Thrush family. They are winter visitors to Britain arriving in the autumn after breeding in northern regions of Europe and Asia. Wintering birds sometimes form loose flocks numbering up to 200 birds but I seem to remember this being a solitary bird. It’s feeding on a berry of a Holly (Ilex aquifolium) tree.

The photo was taken from a bedroom window so I was slightly higher than the bird but not enough for the angle to look odd. It was used in a field guide to garden wildlife and it was taken in a garden unlike some of my other photos used in the book.

A Redwing in a Holly tree.

Whooper Swan at sunset.

Throwback Thursday travels back to Martin Mere Wetland Centre, Lancashire, England in the early 1990s.

I had planned on being at this location for sunset after working out roughly where the sun would set earlier in the day. I had been in the same hide (blind) earlier in the day when the sun was behind it taking shots of the various species feeding. I may have even photographed this particular bird.

A Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus) at sunset.

Sunset Whooper Swan.

Bohemian Waxwing at -30°C.

Throwback Thursday is a follow-up of sorts to yesterdays Wordless Wednesday post. Here’s a Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) at -30°C.

Both birds were photographed in Saskatchewan, Canada in the winter. I’m always impressed by the way small birds survive winter temperatures.

Nowadays some digital cameras make a big deal about a freezeproof rating of -10°C. I find that rather humourous having shot film at -40°C and digital at -20°C.

I found a small flock of Bohemian Waxwings feeding along a fence line one morning. I briefly considered putting up a portable hide (blind) until I thought about how hard it would be to peg down given how frozen the field would be. In the end I followed them along the fence line for a while before leaving them to finish stripping the berries.

A Bohemian Waxwing at -30°C.