Saturday October 28th 2017
After the sudden and unexpected frost on Tuesday morning, today was much warmer and totally overcast, though with the threat of rain any moment. The rain didn’t eventually materialise, but it was a dull, even dark morning, so the Autumn colours were somewhat muted. There are still lots of leaves on the trees though, so the winds haven’t yet blown them all off.
All the past two weeks I have been seeing flocks of Redwings flying overhead, so I was hoping some might have landed on the hill after their migration down from Scandinavia, the berries on the old yew trees being the obvious main attraction. And sure enough, the tops of the yews were where I found them – fifteen at least, probably more, but they were mixed in with a couple of Blackbirds, a group of seven Song Thrushes and another seven Mistle Thrushes. With this much attention, the berry crop won’t last long! The other, much rarer bird I was on the look out for was Hawfinch, as small groups of these impressive finches have been seen all across the UK these past couple of weeks. It’s not a species I have yet seen on the hill, and still haven’t; indeed there were very few finches of any sort this morning, not even Greenfinches or Goldfinches, though the quiet calling of a Bullfinch alerted me to one of these.
A huge stem of an old Beech tree has recently come crashing down in the corner of Braeport meadow, and groups of tits were feeding in the outer branches, now at ground level. Rather like the ravages of the famous ‘hurricane’ that hit the UK 30 years ago this month, toppling thousands of trees in its wake, it has opened up a good area to sunlight, so it will be interesting to see how the vegetation develops in this patch over the next few years. The aftermath of the 1987 ‘hurricane’ is now being seen in a much more positive light all these years later, as folk see what new plants appeared to ‘fill’ the gaps left by the fallen trees.
A lone Buzzard drifted over; a pair having been very evident this past month, so maybe they will stay and breed next year. And after several visits without seeing our resident Roe deer, I saw four this morning, though only briefly as they disappeared amongst the trees.
Image: Wikipedia, “Redwing (Turdus iliacus, right) and Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris, left) picking rowan berries”