Wednesday 1 February 2012


Yesterday I was pleased to see a Redwing (Turdus iliacus) eating berries in the holly tree. We didn’t see any Redwings last winter and I had been wondering if we would see any this year. Soon I realised there were two birds in the tree and many photos were taken. 
Today there have been regular excursions to the tree by several Redwings – I counted seven in and on it at one time and there may well have been more. Sometimes this small flock perches in the tree gorging berries. 
Occasionally they fly off carrying berries in their beaks as well as in their crops.
The Blackbirds and Wood pigeons have steered clear of the holly during the last couple of days giving the Redwings free range.

The Redwing is a widespread winter migrant in Britain and Ireland. The greatest concentrations are seen in central and southern England and southern Ireland. Redwings arrive in September, leaving again in March or April. Those in Scotland have probably flown from Iceland while those from Scandinavia winter in the south of England and as far south as North Africa and the Mediterranean. Fewer than fifty pairs breed in UK – some sources say fewer than twenty - and there is concern about the decline in numbers.
The Redwing is the smallest of the thrushes, just 21 cm (8½”) long. I couldn’t identify males, females, juveniles – they all looked much the same to me. What I found really fascinating were the sequences that Barry shot of them eating, well, swallowing anyway.  I shot some too, but his are much better.
This looks juicy
 Carefully does it - don't drop it
 I can do it - I know I can
. . . and again from the front . . .
 It looks a bit more of a beakful from this angle
 Open wide!
Down the hatch
Much of today has been spent reporting – ‘they’re back’, ‘they’ve gone’, ‘there are four, no, five, six, no, seven’ (voice rising to an excited shriek at seven) We may not see them again but that’s part of the entertainment of amateur bird-watching. I was expecting to see a Sparrowhawk dive into the tree but that didn’t happen. I was glad about that though of course poor Sparrowhawk has to eat too.


  1. Just beautiful.

  2. Thank you, Joshua. You were mighty quick off the mark:-)

  3. You and Barry obviously blend far better into the background than I do ;-) I 'shot' a Redwing (Koperwiek in Dutch) too, but only one photo and they it flew off. And not even a decent photo. Your photos are lovely. Those eating-shots are fantastic!

  4. Carolina, thank you. These were taken indoors from the conservatory. It was bitterly cold today and the intrepid man of the house decided he'd rather stay inside;-) I think the birds would have flown if he'd been outside.

  5. Fabulous shots of the birds with holly berries in their beaks. I'm so jealous! Barry was smart to decide to stay inside, allowing lots of great photos.
    I'm jealous of the holly tree, too. We can't grow them here, and one of my earliest memories is of the holly trees on either side of my grandparents' front walk.

  6. Thank you, Kay - sorry about the holly tree but I'm sure you have lots of things I'd go green for:-)

  7. What a pretty little bird. I love the photos of the Redwing eating the berries, those are wonderful shots!

  8. Jeremy and SquirrelQueen - thank you. We were so delighted to have the photo opportunity/ies.

  9. These are really amazing photos! I don't think I've ever seen a redwing before. I've only heard of the redwing blackbird that we have in the midwest.

  10. Kay, thank you. They are pretty birds, I think.

  11. Hi Janice .. Redwings - thank you ... answered me from another comment I left!

    Great photos - clever and lovely to see them .. cheers Hilary

  12. Hilary, thank you. They are still visiting the garden to eat pyracantha berries now.

  13. I'll bet they get drunk on those berries! We have cedar waxwings that do just that!


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