Saturday, 17 March 2018

Dawn Chorus Walk

The next Dawn Chorus Walk will be held on Thursday 29 March. Meet outside the cafe at 6 am for a walk around Hilly Fields and the Brockley and Ladywell cemeteries. Listen to the birds greeting the dawn, see the birds and, depending on weather conditions, see the sunrise. You'll feel so much better for it.

Birds we should definitely hear include Great Tits, Blue Tits, Blackbirds, Robins and Wrens. Birds we may hear include Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers, Goldfinches and Starlings. We'll be finished by 8 am though people can get away whenever they need to. Hope to see you there.

Blue Tit

Wednesday, 7 March 2018


Redwings have been seen twice this week on Hilly Fields, twittering in the trees and feeding on the ground near the stone circle. I counted circa 40 birds on Monday afternoon and Rachel saw a similar number this morning.

Redwings are members of the Thrush family, as are Blackbirds, Fieldfares and of course the Mistle Thrush and Song Thrush (and, further north, the Ring Ouzel). Redwings get their name from a red patch under the wing which can clearly be seen in my photos but isn't always visible. The stripes around the head are a more reliable ID feature, particularly the creamy white stripe over the eye. They have a similar spotted breast to other thrushes. Their twittering is a form of 'subsong' which the dictionary describes as 'an unstructured, often rambling vocalisation of low volume'. I couldn't have put it better myself.

Most of the Redwings seen in Southern Britain are migrants from Scandinavia. They arrive in autumn and feed on fallen fruit and berries. They get through the winter mainly on a diet of earthworms and depart in early spring. It's unusual to see so many on the ground in Hilly Fields, but they would have been frustrated by last week's snow and are making up for it now. They'll also be 'feeding up' for the flight home. The 'subsong' is usually a sign that they're thinking of departure and also of courtship when they get back. It's lovely to see and hear them. Let's hope they return in similar numbers in the autumn.