Saturday, 1 December 2007

The redwings have arrived

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.


Faith said...

What a lovely little story. Beautiful birds arent they? I have a new visitor to my garden recently - a little nuthutch, cute little bird.

Hope you totally better soon.

Elizabethd said...

Such beautiful birds. We used to see them in Cornwall.
We occasionally have a treecreeper in our garden.

laurie said...

that's a great story. are they only winter birds? are they farther north in the summer?

there is something magnificent and special about catching a glimpse of an unusual bird. in our park we have the occasional bald eagle and snowy owl.

but a couple of summers ago someone put up bluebird houses on trees all through the park--and now on spring mornings, you catch glimpses of the bluebirds dipping and soaring. and oh, they are lovely to see.

Anonymous said...

That's a beautiful picture. We have a large holly tree which is usually bare well before now but for some reason it has kept its berries this year. Do you think it's because these birds haven't been around? Fascinating. I'm getting quite into birds these days. It was only this morning that I was reading my little book about garden birds, trying to recognise the regulars that feast on the nuts I leave out in the feeders.

Crystal xx

LittleBrownDog said...

Gorgeous picture, LBW. I wondered why our neighbour had suddenly put strips of tin foil up on her holly tree - perhaps they're here, too.

Frances said...

I agree that you have told a beautiful story. I also very much like the lovely photo. I have never seen these birds over here in the States!

On another level, it is so interesting to think about the experiences that we daily miss by a minute, an hour or, maybe, by more than a minute.

Just before my career switch to the wondrous retail world, I gave myself four years' off to stay home and paint. And draw. And write in my diary daily. It was bliss.

What also was blissful was to discover what goes on in my building (seeings neighbors I had never before been able to even meet,) my neighborhood (ditto neighbors, but also just seeing Central Park and this neighborhood without the weekend crowding with which I was familiar.

Maybe, best of all was having daily access to the golden afternoon sunlight that streams through the windows of my tiny living room. It was so lovely just to sit on my sofa, with the sun coming in over my shoulder, and work on a drawing, or write in the diary, or read a book I'd not had time for before.

Now, with the shop and its offbeat scheduling demands, I can have at least a day each week that lets me enjoy that afternoon light. Today was one of those days.

See what your spotting of your holly-devoted bird has got me thinking about!

Thank you.

Blossomcottage said...

What a lovely story and the most beautiful picture, each day I learn something new about bird life, where have I been hiding I knew very little about these until now.

Pondside said...

Beautiful! I understand what you mean about the birds being mythical - but so glad that you are finally home and able to enjoy the show!

Fennie said...

I'm not really a bird person - but I am intrigued now to read about redwings. They look lovely! Hope you are fully recovered now.

Zoƫ said...

Beautiful photograph, we see them here too, and the Bramblings, occasionally 30 or so turn up on a cold morning, although further up the lane clouds of finches roost together. I spend a fortune encouraging them to my small patch.

ska said...

i have never seen them in real life so very jealous. i get to go (for work) to RSPB and Wetlands Trust places quite a lot and always marvel at the twitchers - they are so knowledgable! i love to watch but have no knowledge whatsoever!

Pipany said...

What a beautiful picture LWB. I don't think I have ever seen redwings although I see Elizabeth did when she lived in Cornwall. Have noticed loads of jays in the wild here recently though xx

elizabethm said...

I loved this post, lwb. I never used to watch birds but there was so much birdlife when we came here it seemed a real gap in my knowledge not to know something about it. I can mainly identify the ones who come to the feeders but have never seen redwings - perhaps they don't get as far north as north wales?