If we stand outside late on a preferably windless and star-studded  night, it is sometimes possible to hear the thin 'seep-seep' contact calls uttered by flocks of redwings as they fly overhead in a southerly direction.

These birds which I call 'fly-by-nights'  are now winging their way in from a colder northern Europe to spend the winter with us.

Our smallest and arguably the most attractive member of the thrush family have rusty-red flanks and underwings, a bold cream stripe over the eyes and below their cheeks and pale spotted undersides.

As they arrive they will notice a treat in store because there is a bonanza of ripening berries on a variety of trees and bushes and they are their favourite food. However, redwings instinctively leave the berries alone until they fully ripen and winter bites, meanwhile contenting themselves on large areas of grassland foraging for worms, in company with their larger cousin the fieldfare, also a migrant from Scandinavia.

There are two large roadside cotoneaster trees near me and when the birds begin to feed they perch on tall trees across the road and when the coast is clear, zoom down to gorge on the berried treasure together with a blackbird or two and some unwelcome wood pigeons. Sometimes the trees are laid bare within a week or so.

Redwings certainly brighten up autumn with their antics.