Birds in the Big Freeze

The large lake at the medieval priory of Rouge Cloitre has completely frozen over, as temperatures here have plummeted to -10 degrees C, and so I take an early morning walk, imagining what it’s like to live in Siberia. As I take the photo, my hands already start to tingle with the cold; too long framing the shot and they start hurting. But what about the birds who live by the lake, like the blue heron who you might be able to spot in these photos? How are they coping with the cold?

Here, the heron finds a sunny vantage point, though there’s not much fishing to be had.

Well, I think life is tough right now for our feathered friends. Take a look at these little black balls with a dusting of frost. These are poor little coots, all huddled together in a small patch of water, heads tucked deeply in, together with a couple of Egyptian geese. Brrrr…

I have never seen so many ducks gathered by one small puddle of water.

As I was wandering around, I passed a man walking his dog, who greeted me and remarked how the place had become féerique, which means fairy-like, or magical, in French. It was indeed quite special, something I could appreciate when I wasn’t slipping all over the icy path (they don’t treat the paths in this reserve).

Slipping off this path would mean sliding down the steep bank and onto the solid surface of the lake. Ice skating, anyone?

The birds out of the water looked somewhat more comfortable, like this cormorant looking out onto the lake from a treetop.

The robin had puffed out his feathers, and was staying in the sun.

At the priory, the central heating was on, and at the stables a dung heap was steaming away. Warmth! Nobody was sitting out on the benches though. Cold! I was starting to feel it, and at a brisk pace, made my way back, wondering how cold the birds must feel.

15 thoughts on “Birds in the Big Freeze

    1. Very cold but pretty, I like this kind of weather – as long as it doesn’t stay too long 😉 Yes, it’s actually the Egyptian goose with the bird band, they must keep track of them.

  1. The feeling of tingling hands in the freezing cold is familiar to me 🙂 As a photographer you have to be able to live with it. Beautiful there at the Red Monastery. The photos of the birds have turned out well, especially the cormorant looks beautiful. Robins are a little less shy … maybe they hope that we give them something to eat. Enjoy the weekend Sel.

    1. Thanks Rudi. Am getting a bit better with photographing birds. Still waiting for my new camera to arrive. Perhaps we should invest in very thin thermal gloves? I really enjoyed the walk despite the cold! Next week, back to normal I think…

  2. I know that they have biology working for them but I still find it astounding how well birds and other winter hardy animals survive such cold as they do. Here’s an excellent book by a very fine author on the subject. Stay warm, Sel!

  3. Brrrrr indeed! It looks very cold, but also magical with the snow in places. Your photos are lovely! I recognised the Egyptian goose. The detail of their feathers look amazing when you see them up close.

    1. Thanks very much! I also love the feathers and colours on the Egyptian geese. All these frozen birds will finally have some respite, as today temperatures are above freezing, it’s raining and the big freeze is over. Beautiful while it lasted…

  4. Lovely photos, but I can feel that north wind! 😉 It went down to -16°C a few nights here, but I think a thaw is on the way and hope the snow that is currently falling will melt tomorrow!

    1. Wow, minus 16, even colder than it was here. The thaw arrived here today, it’s raining again now, boo! I was sad in a way to see the snow and ice go, as everything looked beautiful, but the wildlife will be relieved, and hopefully spring is just round the corner 🙂

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