Bumper berries, thrushes and stinks
Apparently it’s been a great year for berries due to a warm, dry spring, followed by July and August rains.
On the local roadside slopes I’d noticed a huge spreading mat of red – which I believe is cotoneaster horizontalis! I’ve never seen it so noticeable everywhere before! Quite stunning!
A good year for berries, is good news for birds. A couple of weeks ago I took an early Sunday walk over Seaford Head and was delighted to see not one but three different thrushes feasting on the harvest! This weekend too at Sheffield Park, there were plenty more thrushes feeding in the trees and shrubs!
The first was a beautiful song thrush, a native bird that has declined by 50% in the 25 years to 1995. I rarely spot a thrush and its always a welcome sight
Continuing on my walk I spot a couple of redwings too. In my photos the red wing is not really visible but the marked eye stripe is unmistakeable. Redwings are generally Winter visitors, arriving in October/November so my redwings may have just arrived and be travelling north.
The third one was a fieldfare, also a Winter migrant. Often seen in big chuckling flocks!
On wet and cold November days it would be easy to get depressed about the onset of Winter but there are some advantages . We may have said goodbye for now to some birds such as these swallows busy feeding and preening before heading south..
But the arrival of other birds such as the lovely redwings and fieldfares can only be a bonus. One day I also hope to spot some waxwings feasting on British berries too, in a supermarket carpark or wherever they descend! Bring on the berry eaters!
Not all berries are eaten by the birds. This beautiful one is stinking iris (iris foetidissima) I believe, found in open woodland, hedges and on seacliffs. Also known as scarlet-berry Iris, Gladdon, Gladwin Iris, Roast-beef Plant, and Stinking Gladwin. The names come from the smell of the sword-shaped leaves when they are crushed or bruised – a smell that is said to resemble rotten raw beef! The plant has a long history of medicinal use but can be rather powerful.
Another advantage of the bare branches is that birds are getting rather easier to spot!
I’ve spotted a couple of blackbirds back in my garden too! Hurrah for that, they have finally forgiven me for getting rid of the lawn. Possibly tempted in by the rather pitiful crop of crab apples, and the cotoneaster. As the wind blows and the rain falls, I’ll be filling up the bird feeders and watching out!
Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!