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The Swallows have now all departed for warmer climes but Autumn’s rich bounty of fruit and berries is attracting new visitors from distant lands.

 

Redwings flock to Wales from Finland, Norway and Sweden to feast on the berries produced by hedgerow shrubs such as Hawthorn and Elder. They migrate at night and their high-pitched whistling calls can often be heard on dark still nights, especially when large flocks are on the move.

 

Fieldfares are also arriving from their breeding grounds in Iceland and northern Europe. They visit Wales to feast on berries and fallen fruit. Orchards, especially those where fallen fruit is left on the ground, can attract huge numbers of Fieldfares. They are, however, a flighty bird and quickly retreat to the tops of trees if disturbed.  

 

Other winter visitors that are now arriving from their northern breeding grounds include Wigeon and Teal. These ducks are to be found on lakes and large ponds where they feed on aquatic vegetation and invertebrates. Wigeon and Teal migrate over huge distances to escape freezing winter temperatures in their northern breeding grounds. It's amazing to think that a Wigeon overwintering in Powys could have flown all the way from Russia.

 

At this time of year our iconic resident bird of prey, the Red Kite, is much easier to see, especially where large flocks congregate at feeding stations such as at Gigrin Farm in Rhayader. The Red Kite is a conservation success story; once down to just three individuals, the Red Kite population in Wales now numbers around two and a half thousand pairs.

 

Every now and again a bird with unusual and aberrant markings can spring up in a population of otherwise normally marked birds. There is currently one such bird coming to the Red Kite feeding station at Gigrin Farm. This unusually marked Red Kite is almost completely white; will this impressive looking bird produce white offspring? We will have to wait until spring to find out……...