Redwings flock for our berries
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.
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