Monday, January 25, 2010


A few years ago I decided I would like to be able to identify the common birds in my neighbourhood. With the help of my sister Stephanie and a couple of good bird books I gradually achieved my aim. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. Quite quickly the mass of similar little brown birds separated themselves out into sparrows, chaffinches, blue tits, great tits and a wide variety of other species. I could even identify male from female in many cases, and juvenile from adult.

It was well worth the investment of time and effort. Whenever I catch a glimpse of a familiar species I smile to myself. And the "hang on, what was that?" moments are a thrill, followed by the hunt to see the same bird again, gather enough information to try to identify it, followed by frantic riffling through the bird books to confirm the id.

I have no wish to see every bird species in the world, or Europe or even Britain. I wouldn't go chasing off somewhere because some rare species had been spotted, or stay in a cold bird hide with a flask of tea and soggy sandwiches. That's part of the fun of birdwatching for some people, but my own goal is clearly defined - I just want to know the birds in my local patch.

So why do I bring this up today? I spotted a seasonal visitor today, the redwing. It's a species of thrush, like the blackbird and songthrush and mistlethrush that stay year-round. But the Redwing is more colourful than these dowdy birds, with its dandy eyestripe and vivid red patch under its wings. It's quite shy and although I am sure it comes to the area every year I don't always manage to spot it.


Bill of Ballaugh said...

Well done, Mel, lucky you. I'm sure I've had sight on one too, over here in West Limerick, but I'm not entirely sure so, until I am, it remains a case of 'was it? wasn't it? Still watching.

Yvonne said...

Lovely bird. I live in a birding area here in south Texas on the bay that has oveer 300 species. Lots of migrations through here etc. I love the birds and have been expanding my life list as I travel. Love your blog.

Lesley said...

I love it when the bull finches arrive... but my garden shrubs don't as they lose their buds!

Yellow said...

Do you remember I said I thought I'd seen a redwing at your house about two years ago? It would have been around now as I was probably visiting for half term at the time? I'm over the moon that you've seen them again now.