Birdwatch: Landmark song of the creamy eyed migrants

A redwing, one of the species spotted during the Bog Farmland Bid Count. Picture by Peter Thompson
A redwing, one of the species spotted during the Bog Farmland Bid Count. Picture by Peter Thompson
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WINTER thrushes have been arriving in large numbers along the coast this week and are making their way inland.

On still nights listen out for the thin ‘tseep’ calls of migrating redwings overhead, one of those landmarks of the changing seasons.

Redwings come here from Russia and Scandinavia while a separate race, coburni, darker, more heavily streaked and slightly larger, breeds in Iceland and the Faeroes and mainly winters in Scotland and Ireland.

They are a similar size to song thrushes but are distinguished by the creamy stripe over their eye.

Flocks gather at first in hawthorn hedges to feed on the berries and are shy and easily disturbed.

In the air they reveal the feature that gives them their name, a blood-red patch under their wings where they join the body.

Large numbers of song thrushes were also reported along the east coast. Some come from as far east as Finland and many move down to southern France and the Iberian Peninsula. With them were Scandinavian ring ouzels with 43 seen at Spurn on Tuesday.

Fieldfares are arriving from Scandinavia, larger than redwings and more like mistle thrushes in behaviour. They spend the winter roaming the countryside in flocks which can be several hundred strong.

The first great grey shrike of the autumn was reported at Buckton and a Lapland bunting was also seen there. A juvenile red-backed shrike was seen at Spurn.

The influx of yellow-browed warblers has continued with a record count of 30 in the Spurn area on Sunday, 12 on the same day at Flamborough, at least ten at Filey, and six in the Scarborough area.

Two have been seen inland among flocks of other small birds, one at Riddlesden, Keighley the other at Clapham in the Dales and more are likely to be found in the coming weeks. Spurn has continued to attract a string of rarities.

A second Arctic warbler was trapped and ringed at Kilnsea while on the peninsula there was an olive-backed pipit and, within a few feet of each other, a pied wheatear and citrine wagtail.

The wagtail later arrived on the Canal Scrape.

There were also a Siberian race lesser whitethroat, two firecrests, two little buntings and a Richard’s pipit with Richard’s pipits also seen at Flamborough and Long Nab, Burniston and a little bunting along the Marine Drive at Scarborough.

Inland the first jack snipe of the winter was back on the Old Moor reserve, South Yorkshire while a great white egret continues to be seen there and another at Fairburn and Swillington Ings, West Yorkshire.

A young osprey has continued to be seen at Swinsty reservoir in the Washburn Valley, North Yorkshire.

There are still some summer migrants around with a whitethroat trapped and ringed at Wintersett reservoir, West Yorkshire on Sunday, the latest ever recorded in 40 years of bird ringing at this site.