This year we are experiencing what I call a 'redwing winter'

The smallest and most colourful members of the thrush family, redwings from Scandinavia are spending the winter here in what appear to be unprecedented  numbers.

Opposite my house is a very tall tree, my 'redwing tree', at the summit of which dozens gather to survey the scene below, softly twittering to one another before swooping down to neighbouring gardens, uttering a chorus of high-pitched ;seeeeep' as they take off.

The birds are seeking berries on a variety of trees and shrubs including pyracantha, holly and cotoneaster. Later in winter hawthorn and ivy are much sought after when the berries fully ripen.

With their multi-speckled undersides, brown upper parts, a bold cream eye stripe and red patches below the forewings which give the bird its name, redwings are superbly camouflaged when they perch among red or orange berries and green leaves of the bushes in which they feed.

When all berries are finally eaten the birds can be seen on short grassland where they forage for invertebrates and worms, always in flocks, the most birds I've seen together being at Wisley on new year's day where around a hundred had gathered.

I love watching these flocks descending into berry laden bushes to feed. In an otherwise dreary winter landscape they lend a welcome dash of colour and movement to the scene.

The photo shows a redwing having just plucked a berry.