|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)|