Winter is coming: Helping your garden birds this season

BBC Autumnwatch – bird feeder experiment

BBC Autumn Watch 2015 – Highlights

November 4, 2015
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BBC’s autumn watch was back at the start of this week, packed with intriguing insight into British wildlife in Autumn 2015. Over the coming week we will be bringing you the highlights of autumn watch and all the best advice for your garden visitors.

This year Autumn watch is live from The Wildfowl & Wetland trust (WWT) in Caerlaverock. It has the largest salt marsh landscape in the country, consisting of sandbanks and mud flats and is home to a spectacular amount of wildlife all year round. It hosts the migration of nearly 140000 birds all of varying species including the Pintail and Oyster catcher.

“The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) is a conservation charity that saves wetlands, which are essential for life itself. Wetlands are the primary source of drinking water for people and wildlife. They also connect us with nature, and with ourselves, through beautiful landscapes and inspiring encounters with wildlife.”




The Barnacle Goose
The WWT is an epic inspiration for all wildlife enthusiasts. It and the Barnacle Goose are the stars of a heart warming story involving perseverance and a great deal of patience. The Barnacle Goose is an extremely intelligent and smart looking bird that travels a phenomenal 2000 miles from Svalbard every year to the warmer climates of Caerlaverock. Today the WWT is home to a staggering 41652 barnacle geese! This is an incredible number especially when compared to the 300 that fist migrated there in 1948. It is now known that the entire Barnacle Goose population of Svalbard migrate to this one location to escape the harsh colds and threat of predators such as polar bears. This is all down to the hard work and dedication of the people at the trust learning and adapting the reserve so that it is the perfect habitat for these birds. In particular they have taken care to make sure the grass that they love to feed on is the optimum length for them to graze. After their long haul flight which they make in an unbelievable 61 hours , they will loose up to one fifth of their body weight, so it’s crucial they are getting the correct nutrition.

Fun facts
Weigh: 1.7kg
Wingspan: 140cm
Speed: 74miles p hour
Migration route:Svalbard – Caerlaverock (2000 miles)

Barnacle Geese love to graze on grass and will often peck 3 times per second, meaning they can peck 200 pieces of grass per minute! This can cause them to visit the toilet once every three minutes… That is 160 times per day!


Whooper Swan 03


Whooper Swan

The whooper swan is another visitor to our shores in the winter. There are typically three types of swans in the UK, the Bewick, Mute and The Whooper. The Whooper (named after the whooping noise they make) can be told apart from the Yellow patterns on their beaks, oppose to the orange colours of native swans. The Whooper is the largest flying bird in the world and 27000 of these graceful birds make their epic 620 mile journey all the way from Iceland to Caerlaverock in just 12 hours! When here, they tend to feed on grains such as barley and corn. Whooper swan most often mate for life and will migrate across the seas with their other halves. They even have a period of courtship with their mate after the treacherous and harsh journey. But how do they make this journey every year so concisely? Some theories suggest that birds can see and detect the Earth’s magnetic field enabling them to navigate these distances. Other theorists suggest that the information is passed on from adult to baby. Migration is still not fully understood and there are many theories about how such a bird manages to travel the same epic distance over unmarked territory with such precision.

Fun facts
Weigh: 9 -11kg
Wingspan: 2 Metres
Speed: 55 miles per hour 8000Ft
Migration route: Iceland – Caerlaverock (620 miles)

“Did you know it is one of the oldest birds in the world and has made the same migration for an outstanding 800,000 years!”

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