Every year redwings are among the park’s winter visitors; we are their winter migration’s destination.
Redwings (Turdus iliacus) breed in northern Europe, building their nests low down in boggy woodland and birch forest. When the breeding season is over, and food becomes more difficult to find as the temperature falls at the end of summer, they set out south looking for warmer winter feeding grounds. Some redwings come from Iceland to winter in Scotland and Ireland. Others come from Russia and Scandinavia to winter in southern England and even further south in Europe.
Redwings migrate by night in loose flocks. In autumn, they gather along the Scandinavian coast at dusk before setting off on an 800 km (500 mile) flight across the North Sea to the UK. In rough weather, many may crash into the water and drown.
The first redwings arrived in the park late in October. They have spent the autumn in the hedges and woods, where they feed on fruit and berries. As winter draws on, and the fruit is used up, they will move into the open fields in search of earthworms.
Starling and fieldfare
You might spot them in the fields, often in mixed flocks with other birds, like starlings and fieldfares. In some years, after a more than usually successful breeding season, the redwing population will increase dramatically and then many more visit us and flocks may number in the thousands.
In the spring they will reverse their journey and return north. Some redwings, that spent the winter in Spain and southern Europe, will stop off here to refuel as they head back north.