Black­bird’s song one of great joys of win­ter months

Rochdale Observer - - WILDLIFE -

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

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