The weather always plays a huge part in the country lover’s life, but predicting it using signs from Mother Nature is a curious art!! When we see our native trees such as hawthorn, blackthorn and Rowan full of berries – or perhaps oaks laden with acorns and beech dripping with mast – we might assume this is in anticipation of a hard winter and a provision for hungry mouths struggling through the lean months. Who am I to make a judgement on this? It’s an interesting concept!
What I think is probably less questionable, however, is the movement of our wildlife – especially birdlife! Animals, especially migratory ones, have an incredible instinct to move at the right time to suit their food requirements – had they not perfected this of course they would have died out! Of late I have been witnessing huge flocks of woodpigeons moving en mass across the countryside; the woods are full of continental jays; visiting pipits and larks have moved into fields not used in the summer months and, finally, large quantities of Redwings and Fieldfares both members of the thrush family who come here to escape the winter conditions further north.
This is for me perhaps the surest sign that bitter conditions are on their way – though I wouldn’t like to predict the actual timing (is that a cop out??). Anyway, the birdwatching opportunities are great – the leaves are off the trees and so they are easier to see for a start! The reduced day length means that they need to feed furiously when they get the opportunity, so take advantage of this by stocking up the bird table and let them come to you!!
Can you tell a Fieldfare from it’s cousin the Redwing?? If not, do consider booking me up for a walk and we’ll go through the identification features including the various calls they make!