Tuesday 12 March 2013

Two survivors.

The 2010/2011 winter saw the UK gripped by sub-zero temperatures that brought heavy snowfalls, record low temperatures, travel chaos and school disruption to the British Isle. It included the UK's coldest December since Met Office records began in 1910, with a mean temperature of -1°C, breaking the previous record of 0.1°C in December 1981!

As previously reported on this blog we managed to catch several hundred Coot at Southport Marine Lake during this cold snap. On casting an eye over the subsequent re-sightings of birds ringed during this period it is all too easy to think that some birds didn’t make it out of the cold snap, especially for any birds that appeared not to have been re-sighted soon after or in subsequent years.


However now and again we do get occasional re-sightings of what we’ll call ‘the cold weather birds’ and it’s somewhat relieving to know that they did after all make it out alive! One of these sightings came in yesterday from Keith Avery who had photographed a colour ringed Coot at his local park pond.


After a little research, delving into IPMR and confirming the colour rings with photos taken - it appeared that this bird was hot on the heels of the ‘Flying Scootsman’ and is now the 2nd colour ringed Coot, out of 1,700 marked to be re-sighted in Scotland!

Fife coot.

Since ringing this bird has not been seen elsewhere until Keith photographed it at Beveridge Park in Kirkcaldy in Fife! A movement of 272km north in 2 years and 89 days!

Kirkcaldy movement

Thanks to Keith for reporting this colour ringed Coot and for the photos!

The second ‘survivor’ of the 2010/11 cold snap comes in the form of a Gadwall that we ringed on the same day as the above Coot at Southport Marine Lake. It’s quite unusual to be able to feed and catch, by hand a Gadwall at close range so I guess this goes to show the unusual tameness birds become when in need of food.


However this Gadwall also survived the dark cold days/nights of December 2010 and lived for a further 2 years and 54 days before sadly it was shot dead just 5km away further down the coastline from Southport.

Birds are hardy things it amazes me how they survive such harsh conditions……


  1. It's amazing just how much information you can learn just form ringing the birds. From Findlay

  2. Wow! that is really some mass gathering of coots (and others) in the top photo. No wonder you were able to ring 1700 coots - a figure I found hard to believe before seeing this image.

  3. Update on the Fife Coot.
    It was sighted daily on the pond until Sunday 14th April.
    Presumably, it left to breed elsewhere.
    Then on 9th August 2013 it was seen (and photographed) again on the local pond - this time with a mate.