Red­wings flock for our berries

Rossendale Free Press - - Wildlife -

I WAS out with my cam­era the other day, fail­ing mis­er­ably to cap­ture any singing birds be­cause they were all war­bling from the tops of the trees.

Then, on the ground, at the edge of a meadow, I spot­ted a flock of red­wings just out of range of my cam­era. At home I checked the pictures and couldn’t see the birds be­cause they were so well dis­guised in the scrubby bushes and trees. So I have used a picture from some­one else in­stead.

The red­wing is a small thrush that piles over here in win­ter and swells our bird pop­u­la­tion. In win­ter red­wings gen­er­ally hang about in large flocks with field­fares; an­other vis­i­tor look­ing for some­where warmer than Scan­di­navia and East­ern Europe.

Most of them go fly­ing back in March and April, leav­ing just a few nest­ing in north­ern Scotland. Around 12 pairs are nest­ing in the whole of the UK, along a long line in Scotland. So there are none here in sum­mer – com­pare that to the 12,000 we get in win­ter.

The rea­son they come over to the north west of Eng­land in win­ter is our juicy berry bushes. They will seek them out in hedgerows, wood­land, parks and gar­dens. If you have bushes or ap­ple trees in your gar­den you may at­tract red­wings.

They do look sim­i­lar to their cousin, the song thrush, with dark brown up­pers and white be­low. They have a black streaked breast and or­angey-red sides un­der

their wings – hence their name. They have pretty faces, a white eye­brow stripe and dark brown cheeks.

The main way to spot them is if you see a large group of thrush-like birds flock­ing from tree to tree, or bush to bush, in wood­land and fields. There were re­ports of a flock of nearly 1,000 birds spot­ted in Rossendale a cou­ple of years ago. Some of th­ese flocks may have been an­other cousin, the

field­fare. This is a larger bird with chest­nut-brown back and yel­low breast streaked with black, a black tail, dark wings and a pale grey head and rump.

An aver­age of 20,000 birds gen­er­ally visit our warm spots in win­ter, and then they all flut­ter back to Scan­di­navia for sum­mer.

This leaves us with our mis­tle and song thrushes, most of which live here through­out the year.

Now we are ready for our first swal­lows, swifts and martins per­form­ing stun­ning dis­plays over our gar­dens.

The one cer­tain thing about Mother Na­ture is that she keeps us en­ter­tained all-year­round.

To sup­port the work of the Wildlife Trust for Lan­cashire, Manch­ester and North Mersey­side. Text WILD09 with the amount you want to do­nate to 70070.

Amy Lewis

A red­wing

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