Thursday, 13 July 2017

A Two-handed Affair

I’m seeing many more mistle than song thrushes at the moment. It’s too early to say if song thrushes have had another poor year, but maybe there are more this year, and they could have done better this season. There are usually mistle thrushes on our local golf course in July, and a flock of 11, their white under-wings flashing as they fly, move short distances away from me when I get too near. In the last few weeks I’ve seen them regularly in smaller groups of 4 or 5, but these were probably family parties. Today’s flock is the first big one I’ve seen this summer, and hints of autumn and beyond, when flocks of 10 or more are fairly common. Mistle thrushes nest early, and at this time of year it’s difficult to tell which birds in a flock are adults or juveniles. In my ringing days catching one was always an event, but it was a two handed affair; song thrushes and blackbirds could comfortably be held in the one-handed ‘ringers grip’, but a mistle thrush always needed two.

Mistle thrushes have ceased singing many weeks ago, and just a few blackbirds and song thrushes still ring out in early morning, though not very convincingly, and only then for short periods. Maybe a few pairs are trying to bring off late broods, but the breeding season is just about over this year for all our thrushes. The pair of blackbirds feeding fledged young from a second brood in our garden will probably be the last signs of breeding I see this year.

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