Saturday, November 30, 2019

Thrush Time

There was a heavy frost this morning with the temperature at minus 4C when I cleared the car windows but then struggled to open the frozen solid doors. 

At those temperatures I decided to give ringing a miss but stopped at Gulf Lane on the corner of the A588 to empty a bucket of seed and to count the Linnets ready for milder days. There seemed to be about 70 Linnets, a few Chaffinches and the usual Little Egret in the adjacent ditch. 


Goodness knows why but I followed the lane around the edge of Cockerham Moss, farmland where crops once grew and where winter stubble and unpicked potatoes provided boundless food for birds like Tree Sparrow, Skylark, Chaffinch, Yellowhammer and Corn Bunting. Nowadays “Moss Edge” is one of the worst examples of farming monoculture I know; a bird free desert where the only crop is silage grass that serves to fatten animals until they’re ready for slaughter. 

Cockerham Moss 

Cockerham Moss 

I re-joined the A588 half a mile from Gulf Lane having seen absolutely zero of note around Moss Edge and then turned right towards Conder and Glasson. 

Conder Green seems not to have recovered from its expert makeover of last year and although it is winter there are few birds to be seen. While 90 Teal, 40 Wigeon, 4 Little Grebe and 2 Snipe provided the numbers other waders proved scarce. A Kingfisher provided a literal splash of colour as it dived into the icy water from the sluice wall. 


The dry summer of 2019 gave way to a bumper crop of hawthorn and other berries. In some years berries, mainly hawthorn, get stripped quite quickly by incoming migrant thrushes. This year the countrywide crop is so big that it is lasting longer and may be responsible for the huge flock of Redwings roosting recently at Longridge Fell, 8 miles north of Preston. The latest estimations were of 25,000 Redwings flying to the plantations at dusk. 

I found Redwings, Fieldfares and Blackbirds galore along nearby lanes. The overnight frost which blanketed Northern England on Friday night had obviously sent thrushes far and near in search of food. Huge numbers scattered ahead of approaching cars along busy Moss Lane. 

Some of the Blackbirds were definitely “continental” types, immigrants from Northern Europe, distinguished by their mottled appearance, streaked throats, dark bills and general behaviour in sticking with their cousins the Fieldfares and the Redwings. I settled in one spot and waited for the birds to come to me. 




Hedgerows provide food and shelter for many species. Because they often link small woods, they are essential corridors along which wildlife can travel. It is said that hedges may support up to 80 per cent of UK woodland birds, 50 per cent of mammals and 30 per cent of butterflies. 



The ditches and banks associated with hedgerows provide habitat for frogs, toads, newts and reptiles. It is at this time of year that our protected-by-law hedgerows provide essential food for migrant and wintering species like Fieldfares, Redwings and Blackbirds. 





That was an enjoyable morning.  In most years our Redwings and Fieldfares don't stay throughout the winter and have mostly departed for France and Iberia before the year is out.  It would be nice if they stayed just a little longer.

Linking this post to Eileen's Saturday.



David M. Gascoigne, said...

Good morning Phil: Hedgerows are such a unique feature of the agricultural landscape of the British Isles that it fills one with sadness to see them succumb to the intractable march of industrialized farming. Once during a trip to Britain about twenty-five years ago I made the acquaintance of a farmer in a little hamlet in Staffordshire who had a very traditional operation with hedgerows defining the boundaries of his fields. He gave me permission to wander at will and it was amazing to see the range of birds and other wildlife. It was during two or three days of traversing the area that I saw my only Tawny Owl ever and a Nightjar perched crosswise on the branch of a tree. To think that this kind of activity is threatened with oblivion is very sad indeed,

Lowcarb team member said...

All stunning photographs here Phil, I think my favourites are the Redwings, especially the one of him tucking into a gorgeous red berry!

I think we are in for a few cold frosty days, I much prefer them to the wind and rain!
Enjoy your weekend.

All the best Jan

Margaret Birding For Pleasure said...

I don't ever remember seeing a continental Blackbird here but perhaps they do not make it across to us in Northern Ireland. Great shots of the Redwing eating a berry. Have a good week ahead.

Rhodesia said...

Great set of photos and I love the Redwing, never seen one of those, or a Fieldfare for that matter. Interesting that some birds eat potatoes, I would never have thought of leaving a potato out for the chaffinches!
Have a good Sunday, Diane

sandyland said...

fantastic photos

italiafinlandia said...

We had many berries in Finland too, last summer.
Speaking about migratory birds in general: I saw a flock of Bramblings last October in Finland and one today in Verona.
I am pleased to think that they are the same...(??)
Anyway, I was emotional with joy.
Have a nice new week ahead!

barry said...

Prevent your car doors from freezing shut on cold mornings by spraying the door rubbers with aerosol silicon oil available for m motor factors or, occasionally, Aldi/Lidl. Essential for ringers in a hurry!!

Ludmiła Jabłońska said...

Obserwując ptaki od wielu lat, stwierdziłam, że ptaki sobie dobrze radzą, lepiej od nas. Znajdują sobie terytoria w nieoczekiwanych miejscach. Na pewno zmiana krajobrazu im nie pomaga, ale zauważam coraz to nowe ptaki w okolicy, których wcześniej nie było.
Piękne zdjęcia!

Phil Slade said...

Ludmila says" Observing the birds for many years, I found that the birds are doing well, better than us. They find territories in unexpected places. Certainly, changing the landscape does not help them, but I notice more and more new birds in the area that were not there before.
Beautiful photos!"

A Bit of the Blarney said...

Beautiful photos! Have a wonderful day!

Lydia C. Lee said...

Lovely shots with the Berries as the back ground.

carol l mckenna said...

Awesome photography of our feathered friends and I love the sheep too ~ Beautiful countryside ^_^

Happy Moments to you,
A ShutterBug Explores,
aka (A Creative Harbor)

Hootin' Anni said...

LOVE the composition of the Kingfisher image (but all as usual, are terrific)


Fun60 said...

The berries seem plentiful at the moment and the birds are making the most of them here in my garden, As usual your photos are first class especially like the kingfisher.

NCSue said...

Love the kingfisher and the fieldfare. Your photos are always outstanding!

Thanks for sharing at

Shiju Sugunan said...

Amazing birds! Great shots!

Lady Fi said...

Sweet shots.

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Great photos as usual - the kingfisher is such a beautiful bird, I'd love to see it in real life.

Angie said...

Phil - many years ago, my younger brother was visiting England while we lived there, and he complained (mildly) about the hedgerows and how they blocked views when driving along country roads. I was staggered and to this day I can't come up with a suitable response. I love everything about them (not the least of which is providing habitat for hedgehogs.) That blackbird looks like it might just choke on that berry!

Wally Jones said...

Despite no ringing, you summed the day up perfectly: "enjoyable"!

I vicariously "enjoyed" your entire post! (Okay, except for the thought of minus 4C.)

Superb photographs!

It is easy to overlook the importance of how different habitats are connected. The hedgerows, ditches, woodlands, fields, bodies of water - all important in themselves, but vital for survival as a complete entity. Destroy one element (to grow a crop or raise meat) and survival of entire segments of flora and fauna could be negatively impacted.

Gini and I hope your weather provides more opportunity for enjoyable days!

eileeninmd said...

Hello, Phil

It does sound like an enjoyable morning watching the birds. Your photos are all beautiful. I like the Linnets lined in the sunshine, the sheep are so cute. The Kingfisher is a great sighting and photo. Pretty captures of the Blackbirds and Redwings with the berry background. Great post. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend.

Elkes Lebensglück said...

a fascinating trip and wonderful bird you have photographed while plowing berries! I love this variety of motifs that are so beautiful.
have good weekend

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

What beautiful scenes, make the bird photos even prettier! Of course the Redwings with the berries are special! Looks like a Christmas card! Enjoy your weekend! I finally got to see an owl in the wild so I am 'over the moon' about that! lol

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