Many birds are currently visiting the UK from the colder north and east of Europe to enjoy our relatively mild winters.
Thrushes like redwings and blackbirds do not like snow-covered ground and arrive from Scandinavia along with flocks of starlings and bramblings.
Pied wagtails from Scotland and the higher ground of northern England head south and to lower ground for more hospitable winter weather. Blackcaps tend to visit us from the south-east.
Starling – although very familiar, starlings are now nowhere near as common as they were. In winter, they can still be seen in huge flocks as they gather to roost at dusk.
Their plumage is bejewelled with spots adding to the glossy sheen of their black feathers. They are generalist feeders and visit bird tables, seek scraps in towns and probe for invertebrates in grasslands.
Blackbird – whatever the season, you can nearly always see a blackbird.
Visiting birds often join flocks of redwings and fieldfares to feed on hawthorn and holly berries or eat fallen apples.
They might appear in our gardens, which leads to vigorous disputes with the locals.
Pied wagtail – almost every car park, playground or playing field has a few of these distinctive birds walking around looking for food. Even though there may be several in the same area, pied wagtails like to have their own patch and will drive off rivals. Redwing – similar in size and appearance to song thrushes, redwings are distinguished by the long creamy stripe above the eye. They like berries and can be seen in flocks in hedges in early autumn.
If it gets really cold, redwings come into gardens to feed on fallen apples.
Blackcap – these plain, grey warblers with a contrasting cap – black in the male and brown in the female – are an increasingly familiar sight in our gardens in winter. In cold weather, blackcaps will eat apples and are reputedly fond of sponge cake.
The Wildlife Trust’s 2016 photo competition has been launched, seeking the best wildlife images from across our two counties.
The competition is free to enter and the 12 winners and 12 runners-up will feature in the Trust’s 2017 wildlife calendar.
So next time you are out and about, why not take your camera and see where the inspiration takes you!
To find out more, including the rules and how to enter, visit hiwwt.org.uk.