Explorer and Independent Biologist

Monday, 20 December 2010

Solstice eclipse and Arctic birds

A very Happy Winter Solstice to all my readers!
In Britain we are experiencing a particularly cold period with day-time temperatures staying well below zero. The cold weather is pushing a number of Arctic migrant birds south and west into Europe and for the first time in 400 years there is a Solstice total eclipse of the moon in Britain.

 I am up and out in time to greet the Solstice dawn over my village

For the first time in 400 years, the Winter Solstice sees a total eclipse of the moon 
in Britain. The Earth's shadow is crossing the moon prior to totality, just before sunrise

 At total eclipse the moon takes on a coppery hue, 
but is already setting in the haze of the horizon

Ice floes on the River Leven estuary - the first time I have seen 
the sea freeze over since I have been living in Cumbria

A Redwing seeks out the few remaining haw-berries
(The bold eye-stripe distinguishes it from other thrush species)

A Fieldfare, possibly south from Lapland

A pair of Fieldfares seek warmth in the weak Solstice sunshine
A Waxwing from Bohemia (or further north and east)

The Waxwing secures a nutritious haw-berry in its bill

From today, the sun commences its sojourn back to the Northern Hemisphere. 
I wish you joy in anticipation of warmer, brighter days to come.


  1. Brilliant photos Jim!
    Has the eclipse on solstice day got any significance?
    Have a good sacrifice tonight.

  2. Wow! is all I can say. Really. What wonderful pictures of birds here, Jim. And thanks for the shot of the lunar eclipse. Couldn't hope to see it here with the cloud cover we have (and typically have most all the time, this time of the year.

  3. Thanks Ted :-)

    Jill, statistically it is an astronomical coincidence. However I am keeping well clear of any baby born today in a cattle shed.

  4. Happy winter solstice, Maalie. I like the bird pics. We couldn't see the eclipse here, on account of weather.

  5. I saw the end of the eclipse here..... at totality it was still covered in cloud unfortunately, but luckily that cleared so at least I saw some of it! Of course, for us, it was after sunset....
    The pics showing all the snow and ice are amazing. So few berries for those birds to survive on. Very tough conditions you are all enduring!

  6. OOOh I love the Redwing photo with berries and the Waxwing photo too. Have a super Christmas and New Year. Eat lots and make merry :-) big hug.
    abby x

  7. And a Happy Christmas to you my fellow man, and fellow-blogger. Splendid photos once again. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Thanks for comments everyone. It looks as if Britain will remain in Winter's icy grip throughout the Yuletide season.

  9. Dear Jim,

    Marvellous photos. In London it was too cloudy to see anything, it looked as though you were lucky with your sky.

    Earlier in the month I saw ice floes in the Duddon when I was at Borwick Rails, so you should be able to see them off Askam Pier. They were not so large as the Leven ones you snapped.


  10. Hi Maalie, I'm so sorry I missed it, lucky you.

    Have a wonderful Xmas, and I shall think of you when I head to Welney soon to see the migratory birds.

  11. Hi mate- christmas day here- have a fantastic Christmas eve, and I hope you go fishing at midnight. fantastic shot really make Askam look so different! I bet you are grateful for your four wheel drive!

    Is all the snow and ice as a result of global cooling?? See you ho ho ho