Harriers should enjoy this glut of thrush-flesh

The number of redwings flying over Galloway has become absurd. I can’t ever remember such a glut of thrushes, and hardly ten minutes passes without the thin, whining trill of passing birds. As anticipated, the sparrowhawks are riding the crest of this wave, hunting in sharp, feline pounces through the brambles. The plucking posts are flock-coated with down, and cropfuls of red berries are scattered on the fallen leaves like beads of blood.

Watching the redwings and blackbirds plunder the rowans in the woods above the house yesterday, I saw the first fieldfares, and later heard them chuckle wetly as they rushed away in a massive crowd of ninety or more. A pair of blackcaps has suddenly descended on the garden, and they are plundering the autumn’s stock of spiders, which have been lacing the whins with gossamer over the past few nights.

Further up the hill, snipe move by darkness and teal rush against the clouds in the last blink of daylight. Visiting a new spread of heather near Dalbeattie on Saturday morning, we watched a blue hen harrier hunting over the red grass. When he looped back round, he came to within fifty yards before flaring away and picking a new course, just a few feet from the moss. Fieldfares often go to roost in the white grass, so perhaps he can also cash in on the autumn’s new arrivals.

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