Saturday, 18 December 2010

Red

Another bitterly cold morning as we set out for our walk today.  Covered from head to toe in several layers and looking, once again, like animated bundles of clothes, we decided to do the same walk as yesterday, but 'the other way round'.  Another 5 miles in the icy weather and another set of rosy cheeks when we got home.
There is still a little snow on the ground and it's still very hard-frozen under foot, so it's good to make the most of the frozen ground, in order to walk in places which are normally too muddy at this time of year.  The farmland of the area is being grazed, not by the cattle, which have been moved to slightly warmer barns, but by Canada Geese which have arrived in some numbers.
The standing water which has flooded some of the ground around Straw's Bridge, is frozen solid, but there are some strange and wonderful shapes to be found in the ice.  Here for example, cracks in the ice look like lightning has struck this sapling producing a weird shape , echoing the tree itself.
Red was the title of today's blog entry and now we get to the point.  Redwings (Turdus iliacus) are the smallest members of the Thrush family and arrive from their breeding grounds in the far North, to take advantage of our berry crop each Winter.  A handful of Redwings breed in the Northern-most parts of Scotland, but most will make their home in Iceland, northern Scandinavia and the Baltic states.
Common at this time of year in Britain, they are surprisingly difficult to photograph being so shy.  It seems that as soon as you point a camera at them, off they fly.
The bold, pale stripe above the eye is a good identifying mark, separating them from the more familiar Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) which can look very similar in the winter light.  A better look will show the red patch under it's wing which gives the bird it's name.  If you can get that close!
These are the best photos I have been able to get so far, but we'll keep trying.
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