The rest of the Winter guests have arrived for the party.

Just a quick update today on my birdwatching quest. For some weeks I have been on the lookout for the more obvious Winter visitors, fieldfares and redwings, which seem to have been regularly seen in the county for the last few weeks.

Following a week of frost and grey skies the weekend was surprisingly bright (and even quite warm in the sunshine). A walk into town along the old railway track yielded lots of birds (in contrast with a fortnight ago) but no overtly European visitors. (By this I mean that many of the finches, robins etc may be visiting from the continent, but I would never know.) The main surprise was a female blackcap. These are warblers that usually migrate south for the Winter, but in recent years more and more seem to be found in the UK in the Winter (although these may also be continental visitors).

A trip to the Country Park saw about 14 Goosander, as well as the usual gulls and ducks, but not many small birds. The highlight of the afternoon was watching a sparrowhawk being mobbed by a crow and chased off into nearby shrubs.

Sunday, another sunny day, not an opportunity to be missed. We went for a walk to the north of Daventry to an area where we had seen flocks of redwings and fieldfares last year when doing a bird survey. There were lots of small birds squeaking in the shrubs, but not the longed for redwings. We wandered towards the canal (mainly because we hadn’t been there for a while), still nothing. Finally, on the way back towards Daventry we think we saw a lone fieldfare flying overhead, a small triumph even if we had to go halfway to Braunston to find one.

Redwings? The final piece of the winter puzzle fell into place on my way back to work this lunchtime when I spotted one redwing sitting in the sea buckthorn, looking as though it wished it were somewhere else. (I also got really close to two goldcrests that were darting about some trees, almost oblivious to me, making small squeaks that almost sounded like tiny tinkling bells – something to brighten the dreariest of Mondays.)

Bare Winter Tree Against a Blue Sky

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