Colin Gray writes:
‘This is the time of year to look out for the birds that spend the winter with us.
Keep your eyes skyward if you want to see the Siskins (above, see also here). These are small finches with bright yellow/green plumage and, for the males, black caps. They move around in large flocks feeding on the seeds of the alder trees. They are very active and very vocal. You will hear them chattering in high pitched voices high in the treetops and then suddenly without any apparent reason they will “explode” from the canopy and move en masse to another tree.
Siskins do breed in this country but they are not as obvious during summer as our more familiar birds.
The long distance visitors include the Redwings (above and below) who move from Siberia when the winter cold closes in and find our climate, by comparison, much more pleasant. They will feed on berries and fruits. You might be lucky enough to see them in your garden if the Blackbirds and Song Thrushes have left any fruit. At Fleet Pond they can be seen turning over the fallen leaves like our Blackbirds do, looking for insects and seeds. They are members of the thrush family which includes our Blackbirds and Song and Mistle thrushes. “Red” wing refers to the flash of red under the wings when they fly. It is not so easy to see when the wings are closed. The markings to look for are the bright white eyebrow stripe and much whiter belly than the Song thrush.”
There are lots of other high-quality Siskin and Redwing photos at RSPB Images (although they are watermarked).
The songs of the birds can also be heard from the RSPB site, see under Birds and Wildlife.