On clear still October nights when the air is cool, dense and less turbulent, it’s possible to hear the faint calls of redwings as they migrate high up in the darkness. I’ve always assumed they’re heading westwards, possibly towards Ireland, but I’m not really sure. There have been local reports of a few redwings in recent weeks, and even a couple of fieldfares, but we shall have to wait for much colder weather before the big winter flocks of these very smart thrushes arrive.
Here in the western lowlands, and on the coast, redwings usually arrive in late autumn, but if I were to travel just a few miles north into the hills, I would find the first sizable winter flocks, busy at work on this year’s heavily laden hawthorn trees. We rarely get big numbers down here until winter begins in earnest, but a quick snap of cold weather in eastern England can quickly change all this, and push them over to our side of the country. I noticed a report today of tens of thousands arriving in Bedfordshire, so they must be gradually working their way west. The arrival of fieldfares is much more difficult to predict, and even when the weather turns cold, they often don’t appear in significant numbers, and in some years hardly at all.
I’ve noted more blackbirds of late, and they’re beginning to be conspicuous on open green spaces such as playing fields and golf courses. They also migrate from their Scandinavian breeding grounds, joining our resident birds in winter, and in some years are remarkably common. Cold weather usually arrives late on Gower, and it will be some time yet before I can count five species of thrushes in our village; only then will I know that winter has properly arrived.