The redwings are back. I saw them myself this morning, their wings flashing red and white as they stripped the holly berries from the trees next door. Mine will be next, but I don’t begrudge those lovely birds their feast.
For many years, when I was working full time, redwings were mythical beasts to me. Off I’d go early in the morning, my holly tree laden with berries that were barely visible in the half light. Then I’d return well after dark only to find, by the light from the porch, that all the berries had been mysteriously removed. Not a berry left.
Indoors my phone would be flashing red, with a smug message from next door saying that, once again, the redwings had arrived and I’d missed them. The following dawn would reveal a tree stripped bare.
For neighbours, bird watching from kitchen windows can be a competitive sport. Last year my neighbour saw a spotted flycatcher on the shed, but I saw the bramblings first. We both agree that redwings are something special. So I was pleased to catch sight of the flock that flew over this mornings. Their shrill trecx, trecx, trecx and the whirr of many wings made me look up in time to see about thirty flying overhead. A race upstairs for a better view showed them feasting and growing fat on next door’s berries.
They can strip a tree bare in a matter of hours and be gone as mysteriously as they arrived, those tough little harbingers of wintry weather. What a pity he’s missed them. I think I’ll just leave a message on his answer phone. The redwings arrived but he was out.