The Xmas Bird
Now is the time that my favourite migrating bird arrives on Bute. It is much sought after at this time of year by all bird watchers, and by a great deal of the public who rejoice when it makes it's first appearance, which is usually about Xmas time.
They are rather noisy birds, and a large flock of them all making their characteristic gobbling sounds, would do your head in, so they tend to feed in the countryside, The Straad area seems to be one of their preferred haunts. Identification is quite easy as long as you have a good reference book to help you. 'The one that I use was written by Delia Smith, but the best one by far was written many years ago by Fanny Craddock. If you have no access to these books, then I will help you. They are always white with very long necks and are also very large, starting about 6lb for a chick, to as much as 40lb for a full grown adult.
Their food consists of chipolata sausages wrapped in streaky bacon, brussel sprouts , carrots, roast and boiled potatoes, and cranberry sauce. And as some of them may be underweight after their long flight from North America, they may need to be force fed to survive. Sage and onion ,and maybe a special filling that you can buy already made up will do nicely. When they arrive here they have all their flight feathers, but loose them very quickly and will feel the cold . The best way to help them is to wrap them in Alcan Foil and place the in a hot oven to stop them from freezing to death. Leave them like this for a few hours, depending on the size of the bird and the size of your oven. When they have been thoroughly warmed up they will take on a bronzed appearance like the one in my photo which I caught on camera on the 25th of December last year after I sat and waited for hours just to get this one snap. " that's dedication for you".
Last year was a very good one for this species with a record amount of them arriving on our island. I hope that we will have the same amount or even more this year as they are very poplular birds.We are all bird lovers at heart but this one more so. So if you have not recognised it yet, then you need glasses! Fill them up with a drink of your choice and repeat after me. A VERY MERRY XMAS.
First published in the Buteman 20-12-2002
The Xmas Bird