Blackbird’s song one of great joys of winter months
THERE was a leaving do at The Wildlife Trust recently and the morning after I was called onto the airwaves to chat about the places to go for a walk in Greater Manchester.
Obviously after a night out a walk is a great way to get your body and mind back into some sort of working order.
And it’s a pretty spectacular time of year to go for a walk now with autumn colours and leaves dropping from the trees to give us a better view of assorted animals and birds.
Fungi is also dominant, adding colours to woodland floors that are losing their flowers. This is a really bright and vibrant time of year.
You will see deer and fox searching for food which will become more and more scarce as the days get colder. But there is an abundance of birds at this time of year, lots of visitors from the Continent, snuggling up with our native tweeters to stay warm.
My heart skips a beat when I hear one of our most common birds, the blackbird, singing with such gusto that nothing in life can be bad ever again.
However is that my local blackbird that I have been feeding all spring and summer or is it a Russian bird that has just come here for a warm?
The winter migration brings tens of thousands more blackbirds than in summer, rising by possibly 40,000 birds to 100,000 in the colder months. Like their fellow thrushes most will have come from Scandinavia, but some do actually travel from as far afield as Russia. There is some movement within this country, so your exotic bird might have only flown in from Yorkshire.
Most people, apart from the odd ones on Pointless, know their blackbirds – black body, yellow bill and yellow ring around the eye.
Females are dark brown with streaking on their chests and throat, looking a little more thrush-like.
Streaky youths look even more thrushy.
The migrants look slightly different and are not that easy to recognise, bills being a little less yellow and the rings around the eyes not as prominent.
We should welcome our guests, they are real characters hopping onto lawns with their heads cocked to one side, listening for worms in the ground below. They will appreciate any fruit you leave out on your bird table this winter.
So get up early, blow away those cobwebs and listen to the birds singing on sunny winter days. It is truly one of the great joys in life.
The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside is dedicated to the protection and promotion of the wildlife in Lancashire, seven boroughs of Greater Manchester and four of Merseyside, all lying north of the River Mersey. It manages around 40 nature reserves and 20 Local Nature Reserves covering acres of woodland, wetland, upland and meadow. The Trust has 29,000 members, and over 1,200 volunteers.
To become a member of the Trust go to the website at www. lancswt.org.uk or call 01772 324129. For more information about Cheshire Wildlife Trust call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewildlifetrust.org.uk.
A blackbird in singing mode