Friday, February 13, 2009


Some bird sightings around Battlefield in recent days. 

Apart from the ever present gulls and crows – black and thoughtful in all they do – we have the usual Magpies cackling in the trees alongside the railway, the snow seeming to highlight their piebald plumage. It comes as a shock to see how blue, iridescent blue at that, quite the equal to the more popular Kingfisher's, their wing feather patches are in this kind of light. But other birds flit through, such as the delightful Long Tailed Tit.


These charming birds, surprisingly exotic seen close up, travel about in winter often in large mixed flocks with other Tits but otherwise several in a small party. They make one of the most special nests imaginable; lichen 'stitched' together with spiders webs, forming a complete ball which wraps about the stems of a thorn bush or other low shrub for support. Once seen never forgot.

From further afield is the Redwing. These turn up from day to day in small groups, sometimes only a few birds hunting for berries when they can be found; but they can form much larger flocks especially when moving into or out of the UK on migration to their (predominantly) Scandinavian summer nesting grounds. The red under the wing can be sometimes hard to make out. I find the pale eye stripe is a surer guide. The Redwing's larger cousins and travelling companions, Fieldfares, do not seem ever to come in towns or parks, sticking to farmland where, as befits a colonial breeding bird, they can be seen in very large flocks.


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