The redwings are coming

At the weekend most of a birding persuasion would have been heading to their favourite patch particularly if it was on the coast as the Autumn migration is turning up its annual feast of rarities from Northern Europe  and beyond. One of the annual treats locally is the arrival of the first winter thrushes including the diminutive redwing which is usually heard before it is seen often late in the evening or at night with its distinctive seep call. The first bird heard over the village this year was on the 7th November so a little later than last years which had turned up by the 23rd October.


Redwing difficult to get a decent capture of unless perhaps you tempt them with mealworms? Credit: raudkollur Flickr via Compfight cc

With only a few distantly heard birds locally I thought I would check out all the local fruit trees and see what turned up but all that I found amongst this year’s massive fruit harvest were blackbirds. But there are lots of blackbirds and the local village numbers have clearly been swollen by visiting birds from the continent. Also in amongst them sizeable flocks of goldfinches and assorted great, blue and long tailed tits in evidence around the village over the last couple of weeks.

Searching for some more intimate redwing encounters I set off to nearby Marlingford to catch up with my monthly WEBS survey I wasn’t to be disappointed as the first part of my journey passed through mixed scrubland full of berry laden trees and also full of redwings. The birds are really skittish with an almost extra sensory ability to fly off before you get a good look at them but in total I would think I saw over a hundred in one huge flock of feasting birds. There were a few blackbirds in amongst them and a particularly splendid mistle thrush. Once I got to my most significant water feature I was pleased to see the first snipe of the year.


Snipe with its camouflage stripes and mud probing bill. Credit: ctrolleneos Flickr via Compfight cc

I initially found two birds and as one started drumming I assume they were a pair.If you have not heard the drumming call of a snipe check the following link (here) I was lucky to flush another later with a burst of flight almost from under my feet. I imagine these birds have been about all year but hiding and they remain a missing bird from the Birds of Hethersett but almost certainly do turn up but remain hidden due to their ability to blend into the background. The snipe was rubbing shoulders with increasing numbers of teal as well as tufted duck. I thought it might be useful to check the shore line for hidden birds and accidentally disturbed 25 cormorants and 95 greylag geese which all took to the air at once and along with a few grey herons and  made quite a spectacular sight. Whilst distracted by the avian snowstorm I took no photos but did pick out a whistle of the first wigeon of the year.


A male wigeon one of my first pair of the year and a taste of winter to come.

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