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Two Sundays before Christmas. Food in the hedgerows is in short supply. I hear news that a hungry fox has cleared out a hen house at Spratt’s Green. It is certainly at this point in time that the thrushes turn to the Hawthorn berries. Until now they have studiously avoided the bitter red pippy berry, but as we walk along the railway line we follow a cloud of Fieldfares and other thrushes as they work the hedge. They chatter and chortle as we arrive. Then move away as a flock, circle in our wake and settle to their task. Goldfinches and Linnets concentrate upon whatever they can glean along the margins.   Survival has become the key as the period of plenty has ended.

Waiting for change

February 6, 2011

Strong warm westerly winds bring about changes. Although a few stragglers may remain, it seems that the majority of the winter thrushes (Redwings and Fieldfares) have move back towards their summer quarters. I assume that they are in transit to Scandinavia assisted by a strong tail wind.

The resident thrushes which remain have yet to settle into their breeding territories.  I listen out for the first sign – usually a Mistle Thrush adopts the height of dead Elm near Street Farm as the venue for the early spring song. So far it has not arrived, but it cannot be long. The Mistle Thrush has a strong fluting song for which seems to select the windiest days – perhaps is a week or twos time.

The large flocks of finches appear to have broken up. So much of the anticipation of Spring is derived from what is no longer happening. As I always remember, at migration time it is much easier to spot the first arrival than it is to record the last time you saw one.

Late November

November 25, 2010

Winter appears to be getting a grip in late November.  Long periods of rain have pressed the fallen leaves to a pulp. Some trees are valiantly holding on to their foliage, as ever the oaks seem to be the most resilient, but a sharp frost on the night of 16th November trimmed away the final leaves of the vast majority of the other species.

The Roe deer have retired from grazing the fallow grasses. I assume that they have moved deeper into the woods, but I have had no sight of them for some time. The short days mean that they can probably glean what feed they require under the cover of darkness.

Redwings and Fieldfares are active in large flocks along the railway line. Their distinctive calls providing a percussive backdrop to a morning walk.