Grapes galore and a berry bonanza. This is what a warm summer and autumn has brought us. Even a few white butterflies were seen in mid-October which is almost unheard of.

Hawthorn, holly, pyracantha, ivy and cotoneaster  are what I call 'berried treasure' , providing a welcome feast for blackbirds, thrushes and our winter visiting redwings (pictured) and fieldfares from Scandinavia.

Now, as temperatures finally tumble, these birds are beginning to fly southwards to our shores. It is sometimes possible on a still late autumn night to stand outside and hear redwings uttering thin 'peep' contact calls as they fly overhead

For me, their arrival is one of few compensations to enjoy as winter progresses. Delightful birds they are too, and can often be approached quite closely as they feed, always in flocks on the berry bushes. Often the berries can be stripped in a very short time but if the weather is not too cold the birds tend t leave them until winter really bites. The flocks also spend time on grassy areas feeding on worms and invertebrates.

Earlier in springtime blackbirds were singing everywhere but I never saw any fledglings and in fact blackbirds seem quite scarce now.

As for song thrushes and misttle thrushes, their numbers have really declined in the last five years. Lack of nesting sites and continuing use of pesticides are no doubt major factors in their demise which saddens me greatly.