Monday, 14 March 2016

Winter thrushes just passing through..

Redwing in Hawthorn, (c.Brendan Shiels)

Though the Garden Bird Survey has finished, there are still movements of winter birds to note: A flight of nearly 40 Redwings located mid afternoon, calling a thin 'seeepp', as they made out from the stand of Birch Trees, over the garden, heading purposefully east. This was exciting as it was my first sighting since the migration from Europe, back in November.  Despite its thin quality, this call travels a fair distance and is a valuable contact aid to these migratory thrushes, most often recorded on wintery nights in November as the inward influx from mainland Europe takes hold.
Redwing picked up and cared for in hard weather ( F. Van Dokkum)

 A few of my colleagues also noted Redwings in recent evenings.  During a mild winter, some of our winter thrushes don't need to make the journey to Ireland.  However, our Redwings can originate from Icelandic populations or indeed the Fenno Scandinavian race.  They have a huge winter range which extends into southern Europe and east to Cyprus and as far as the Caspian Sea and some of our sightings at this time may well refer to passage migrants. Both races of Redwing can intermingle in winter but go there separate ways for the breeding season.   In exceptionally hard weather conditions you may witness a mid-winter wave of additional migrants, fleeing a frozen continental Europe: these birds are often desperate for energy and food supplies, hence their tameness and willingness to enter gardens to scour for berries and scraps. Many don't survive the harshest weather, so not having Redwings in your garden may mean that Redwings are doing just fine, elsewhere..

Redwing (c. Dick Coombes)

1 comment:

  1. I saw only one Fieldfare this past winter; it was in the Coronation Plantation in Co Wicklow, at the end of February. The thought struck me that the habitat here was not unlike its nesting habitat in Norway, though perhaps we have less birch scrub here due to overgrazing.

    The Coronation Plantation looks great, though planted: it has a naturalistic look to now through irregular die-off of the trees.

    But it's obvious that most of the Scots pines are now reaching the end of their natural lifespan – the place is full of standing deadwood – and that there is no natural regeneration happening – there are no young trees to be seen whatsoever – on account of the grazing pressure from deer and sheep.

    If we are to protect the Coronation Plantation pinewood, for its aesthetic and historic appeal and its high nature value, we will have to take steps to reduce the grazing pressure. But how?