Wednesday, 20 January 2010


I was walking in a small park near my home when I saw a woman with binoculars, intently staring at a tree. For a long time she stood in the middle of the path. Intrigued, I asked her what she was looking at. She pointed at hundreds of small birds perched on several tall trees which I’d not noticed. She said they were redwings, a type of thrush who spends the winter months in England. In cities, she said, they gather in parks and small woods. ‘You’ll never find them in gardens. They like to stick together.’ She said they come from Scandinavia and Russia, arriving in November and returning north in March.

After being alerted, I could hear their excited chirping. The writer Maya Angelou said, "A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer; it sings because it has a song." That’s true, but I think there is more to it when it comes to the redwing. Surely it sings to keep in touch with the flock when in flight over great distances, hence its scorn for small gardens where there isn’t enough room for them to roost together. To hear redwings, click here.

One of the exercises I set is to write about birds because we need to protect them, as well as watch them. Join the RSPB, leave food out in your gardens. Look out for the birds. 

Stay tuned . . .  

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