Thrush bonanza at Muir of Dinnet NNR

A couple of weeks ago, we posted that we expected some more “winter thrushes” to arrive soon. I think the weekend’s easterly winds have brought them! These thrushes come here from all over Europe and Scandinavia, but a tiny, tiny percentage may be resident Scottish birds, moving down from  the hills or north of the country for the winter. I’ve only ever seen a “fall” of thrushes this big once before. There must have been several hundred redwing and fieldfare around Loch Kinord today (22 Oct) , gorging themselves on the rowan berries, with smaller numbers of blackbird, song thrush and mistle thrush mixed through the flocks. It was fantastic- there are so many bird that their calls merge into white noise in the woods.

Song thrush in rowan tree

Song thrush in rowan tree

But if you can separate the calls, its a good way to tell these thrushes apart. In the winter, we mostly hear alarm call, not proper songs. Redwing go “tseep” or “siiiip” in a high-pitched voice, while fieldfare have a noisy “tak tak tak” in flight or a softer “chuk chuk chuk” when feeding. Alarmed blackbird you probably know-” the classic “plink  plink plink” often heard in gardens as you walk out the door. Mistle thrushes have the harshest voice- they are often likened to a short burst on a football rattle- and song thrush sounds a bit like the redwing. Bird listening as well as bird watching can be just as good a way of telling birds apart!

Fieldfare feeding on ornamental rowans

Fieldfare feeding on ornamental rowans.

These winter thrushes are a real spectacle right now, so come and visit the reserve and look and listen out for them. At the moment, while the berries last, they’re easy to spot- and hear! But even if you didn’t see a bird, the woods are golden with autumn colours right now and its a wonderful time to be out an about in the countryside.

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