Redwing Calendar

Having been treated to a feeding display by a flock of Waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus) in Woburn two weekends ago (Dec 2nd), I’ve been wondering where our usual band of visiting Redwings has been. It’s that time of year when we quite frequently peer out into our back garden and the woods beyond in the hope of seeing something less than common-or-garden but, so far this year, nothing. Until, that is, today. This morning, I was delighted when Carol, a.k.a. Hawk-eyes, declared that she thought she’d seen a Redwing (Turdus iliacus) raiding the berries near our kitchen window.

J01_0865 RedwingI dropped everything (!) and looked out of an upstairs window to see what I thought was a tell-tale russet flank disappearing back into the woods. It had probably been chased off by one of our larger Blackbirds – larger than the Redwings, that is – which tend jealously  to protect “their” berry supply. I’m certainly not surprised at that reaction this year; some of the natural food seems to be a little scarce after our appalling so-called summer. I grabbed camera and bar stool and settled down to wait, somewhat patently, for a Redwing to return. I think I spotted just two, neither of which posed particularly favourably, but I did managed to get a recognisable documentary shot for the sake of evidence. Shooting through a bedroom window doesn’t help but here it is.

One of the advantages of writing wildlife observations, such as this, down in a weblog is that it gives me the chance to look back and find out when things happened in previous years. Of course, we’re not exactly staring out of our windows all the time so the observations aren’t what you’d call scientifically rigorous but Hawk-eyes doesn’t miss a whole heck of a lot. I did a search for my Redwing posts over recent years and they really are remarkably consistent, considering:

  • winter 2009/10 – December 17th
  • winter 2010/11 – December 20th
  • winter 2011/12 – January 14th (a month later – I wonder if we missed an earlier visit?) 
  • winter 2012/13 – December 10th

J01_0858 GoldfinchWe also had a small gathering of four Long-tailed Tits (Aegithalos caudatus) today for the first time this season, that we’ve seen. I’m glad because we’ve invested in a large supply of fat balls together with a squirrel-proof fat ball feeder mainly with those little charmers in mind. The last couple of days have also seen our hitherto solo Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) get joined by three more friends. They also have a feeder largely dedicated to them, a nyjer/niger seed feeder, though they continue apparently to prefer the sunflower seeds, just like everyone else.

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