Storms, Spooky Ash trees and 250 thrushes
Redwing & Berries © Steve Davis
Far from being dead, the winter countryside at Kingcombe is full of surprises and things to discover!
The recent storms have blown many of the leaves from the trees at Kingcombe, although the field maples seem to be stubbornly hanging on to their leaves! Although this sudden loss of cover can make the hedgerows look stark, it also reveals another side to the trees.
Along the river bank the alders, tall and proud, are festooned with cones, tiny brown imitations of the mighty fir cones we are all familiar with. Similarly stuffed with seeds, they are a magnet for small birds, especially siskin and redpoll, looking for a hearty feed on a cold winter’s day.
Further afield, in the hedgerows, the ash can stand even taller. The bark of the older trees can become cracked and their twigs, all knotted and knurled, look like an old witches fingers, and the keys (the seeds) hang in dark bunches. In the moonlight they can take on a quite a sinister form!
These same winds that have stripped our trees have also brought our first big wave of winter thrushes (redwings and fieldfares), with one flock of 250 birds seen just the other day. These birds fly to this country from Scandinavia, brightening our winter countryside with their calls and colour. The redwing, about the size of our song thrush, rather appropriately has a red ‘armpit’, that is very obvious when it flies but can still be seen as a rusty red splodge on its side below its wing, when perched. They often migrate at night, when you can hear a thin wispy hoarse squeak, even over towns and cities. The fieldfare is much bigger and has a grey head and back, and orange chest - a truly lovely bird to see as it struts across a field (its name means ‘field walker’) or perches on those bare branches.
Far from being dead, the winter countryside at Kingcombe is full of surprises and things to discover, so why not come and see for yourselves!