The “Beast from the East” is starting to put in and appearance. After the bitter cold of yesterday, we now have the first flurries of snow. Nothing too serious, but a warning of things to come.
The tit family always amaze me in winter. With a beak exquisitely designed for prizing small creatures out of crevices in tree bark, they are very fond of these sunflower seeds. Although we only see them take off their prizes to deal with in the privacy of a nearby hedge, they apparently have no difficulty in extracting the seed from its hard protective husk. Then there is the little problem of adapting their digestive system from dealing with the soft juicy insides of insect larvae to coping with the far denser seed kernels. These little dinosaurs (these days they really are considered to be such) have some amazing seasonal biological adaptations that we are only just beginning to understand; for example: their reproductive system atrophies to a very small proportion of its functioning size in preparation for migration, only to regain its normal proportions when breeding is imminent.
The weather forecast for the next few weeks means that there will be high mortality rates amongst the smaller species as the total amount of fat they are capable of storing is barely enough for them to survive a long, cold night. A knife edge on which they exist for a significant portion of the winter.
Tomorrow we drive home and will arrive in time to feed the Roslin population before it goes to bed.
I have just posted yesterday's, "Mow Cop Folly."