Country Corner - The borderless spirit of our familiar birds

The great armies of geese will be arriving soon.
The great armies of geese will be arriving soon.

Nature is international, writes George Hogg (Hogg Estate Services).

While we are busy trying to Brexit, birds and even insects are arriving and departing our shores from every direction at all times of year.

Of course, human use, mainly misuse, of our planet has caused many of these species to suffer drastic declines in their populations.

This is why conservation also has to be international.

At a time when so many species are relying on us to work together to reverse their fortunes, it is sad to see us pulling apart.

If only we had a fraction of the borderless spirit of other species.

Most obvious of our incoming autumn migrants are, of course, the great armies of wild geese.

Winter thrushes too are heading in from the north; Redwings and Fieldfares being the most obvious because we only see them as winter visitors.

However, many familiar birds like Robins, Blackbirds, Song Thrush and Mistle Thrush also have their resident populations greatly increased by others of their species arriving from fast freezing northerly regions.

So the Robin in your garden in October might be Polish, Danish, Russian or even Siberian.

This might surprise folk who talk about ‘our’ robin, thinking any robin in their garden is always the same one. So, if your own garden robin is a visitor, and next door’s is another one, just how many birds are crossing the North Sea on any any given autumn night?

The answer runs into the millions if you include all migrant species.

For instance, of all birds breeding north of Europe’s northern coastline, some 75 per cent migrate south in winter.

That creates a mass exodus, wave after wave of mixed species, mostly flying under cover of darkness to avoid predators.