Country Corner

A redwing stops over on its migration from northern climes to the warmth of southern Europe
A redwing stops over on its migration from northern climes to the warmth of southern Europe

“Vis Mig” is birder speak for visible migration which of course is the act of watching birds leave,arrive or pass by on transit.

Here is a redwing photographed as autumn turned to winter. Anywhere on the east coast in autumn, especially during easterly winds, is a good time to experience ‘vis mig’.

On one particular day in October, working by the coast, I would see an inland bound wave of redwings pass over every few minutes.

What special birds redwings are, with their smart facial patterns and orange oxters.

For the entire winter and well into spring, redwings will roam the hedges and fields in search of berries and bugs.

Often they will be seen in the company of their larger cousin, the fieldfare.

Fieldfares are much noisier birds than redwings, so these mixed flocks are often given away by the harsh chatter of the ‘felties’.

Both these northern thrushes share our fieldscape with the wild geese.

However, as winter turns to spring, we may see them again as they prepare to return to their nesting grounds.

In the case of the redwings and fieldfares, it is not unusual to see their numbers build up along the east coast as they await a favourable west wind.

By now it is April and birders interested in ‘vis mig’ are expecting the first of the homecoming swallows and martins. Suddenly the geese are gone north, the redwings and felties northeast and the first swallow of spring comes flitting by, heading north or west.

It is all part of visible migration and forms regular landmarks in the countrymans’ calendar.

So watch out for the bonny redwing this winter, before it moves on yet again.