Tiny Viking marauder comes into focus

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Autumn robed Vikingbird, Among the Stars last night I heard, Wave on wave your wandering kin. Winging Winter Home again, writes George Hogg (Hogg Estate Services).

There are some annual arrivals which easily move me to rhyme.

And the Redwing is one of them.

These sub-Arctic thrushes come in over the cold North Sea in the dark of late autumn nights.

Our Gulf Stream winters stave off the deep freeze conditions of their northern homelands.

Meanwhile, our massed hedgerow berries of rowan, hawthorn and wild rose are waiting to sustain our Viking visitors. Make no mistake, these are the wildest of wild birds and not likely to gift the casual observer a close view.

The smallest of thrushes, the redwing can be identified by its creamy strip above the eye and orange-red flank patches.

Redwings move en masse and it is hard not to be aware of their foraging flocks in the landscape.

At that point they may be watched through binoculars if you keep to cover and keep still to avoid moving them on.

I have likened them to Vikings but might just as justifiably called them gypsies, such is their desire to keep moving on.

As is often the case, this photograph was taken from my van window as one of several redwings I had been watching, suddenly landed in a rowan tree only feet away.

So close, I could make no sudden movement despite the urgency to get the bird in focus before it flew.

Nor is it at all easy for a camera to focus on a bird among a mass of branches.

Auto focus is very prone to locking onto random branches in such situations.

Luck was with me though and I managed three sharp pictures among four before the bird was gone.

So watch out for the roving Redwings. They may even inspire you to poetry.