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.
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!
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.