REDWINGS AT ROOST
Today I wish to turn to the Redwing and in particular to its roosting records. Once the main migration has started from say the middle of October through to early November, and from then on throughout the winter months, the birds can sometimes be seen roosting on Hutton Roof. If I take the footpath which goes from the Plain Quarry Car Park and up through Dalton Crags there is every chance I may see some of the roosting birds from the previous evening, as a rule I would not expect numbers to be in excess of 100 birds, so I guess in volume “ours” could be considered a small roost.
On another occasion I remember one year following the birds and finding their small roost at the top of Dalton Crags (North West Side) near to the wall boundary with Lancelot Clark Storth. I witnessed them going down into a medium sized Pine tree with a couple more smaller trees close by. I watched them for over one hour and noted that they were restless and moving low all the time from there to other trees perhaps 50-100 yards away and eventually coming back and settling into the Pine Tree. Of particular interest to me was the calls they were making, it was a contact call I had never heard before, which to me seemed totally alien to what you may have expected from a Redwing, more of a gruff sort of call. On arriving back home I searched online the many variant calls and did eventually find the call in question. Sure enough it turned out to be a “roosting contact call” which is only ever delivered at or near to the roost site. I think this particular roosting site was very temporary, and although I did see the same area being used the following year I can’t say I have ever seen it being used since. But I have to say it was lovely to watch even though it may have been of a very small number of birds in this particular roost site.
All that may sound good! And yes I feel they are special memories, but let me now try and give my account of just what went on yesterday (18th November 2019). When we were so privileged to witness what must be a very special phenomenom in regards to Redwing roost and because of its nature gave me the inspiration to write this short article.
The true phenomenon just as it happened before our very eyes
A friend from down in East Lancs phoned me to tell me about a massive Redwing roost site which had been discovered down in the Ribble Valley at a place called Kemple End, an area on the side of Longridge Fell and not far from Stoneyhurst or Clitheroe. It sounded really special with reports of over 20 thousand birds going into the roost which to us sounded too irresistible to miss out on. So Sandra and I decided that was our destination, we just had to go and witness this fine spectacle. We were not to be disappointed we arrived on site for about 1545hrs and by 1605hrs everything was in full swing with large sways of birds coming through thick in numbers from a South/South West direction, it soon became obvious we were at the best location to receive the main concentration overhead which was conveniently a small car park, but also the birds were coming through strong at another point almost 100 yards on a wider line to the west, by now the birds were almost just one large continual stream and each second or two saw a hundred or more birds within your single viewing and this just kept building and building in numbers with equal or more continuity, which continued over a period of some 25 minutes or so. I guess there would have been at least thirty thousand Redwing if not more! I know that sounds incredible numbers for thrushes, but sure enough it happened before our very eyes. Also we noted up to 30 or so Blackbirds which sort of flew just slightly beneath the Redwing flock and I am sure there would also have been hundreds of Song Thrush as well within the massive flock and guess what? There was at least one Peregrine in sight at times spooking the Redwing before all went quiet, and probably a sign he must have got his supper! This today was something really rare and special and I believe this roost has already been going on for several days now……Just a bonus or what! but has the Redwings started to thin out, a few Woodcock were seen coming out of the areas close to where the Redwing were entering, obviously leaving their daytime roost to go foraging and we witnessed at least 8 birds but I am sure this would have been well under estimated.
Would it again be such a spectacle to see the birds leaving the roost, early morning, yes it would! although going off the experiences I have had with the smaller roost, the birds (Redwing, very much unlike Starling) don't usually leave the roost sites in one go! whereby they leave the roost in smaller parties and the vacation may take up to one or more hours, I just wonder if this is similar with these massive roost. I wonder if I could get up early enough!
This is a fabulous little video posted live this evening by Craig Bell of Rossendale showing the Redwings on their way into the roost in Kemple End, (Ribble Valley) Lancs. Tuesday 19th November 2019 (approx 1600hrs). Please click over the arrow....
Run your courser over the photo and then click the square that comes up to enter fullscreen......
Great White Egret
Just to report that the Great White Egret is still down in the fields to your left hand side (Kendal direction), just as you come out of the Burton In Kendal village and before you hit the Clawthorpe Bend.