Posted by: Ross Gardner | October 17, 2014

Redwing arriving


For a small voice of reason,

Gossamer thin

Over street lights,

Traffic lights,


For the gathering strands

Of winter sneaking

Under autumn’s nose.

       (from ‘A Small Voice of Reason’)

If you don’t know it, it is a sound that is easily (and more often than not) missed.  A thin, slightly drawn out ‘seeep’, emitted unseen overheard.  Unseen because Redwing arrive a night.  They migrate to Britain from Northern Europe, some from the Arctic reaches of Russia and Scandinavia, wintering here in their hundreds of thousands.  The tiny UK breeding population is confined to Northern Scotland.

Once recognised however, that faint, high-pitched whistling note can be heard almost anywhere as the migrants arrive in the autumn.  I have heard them in Central London; on busy High Streets on a Friday night; even (as was the case a few days ago) at a football match in Essex, one of the birds briefly visible in the glare of the floodlights.

I have one hastily snapped picture of a Redwing which does this smart little thrush no justice at all, so here’s a link for some better ones.

Rewing (Turdus iliacus).  Ross Gardner 2013

Rewing (Turdus iliacus). Ross Gardner 2013


  1. […] It is a sound that would probably require a knowing ear to hear it.  One which has been given comment on this blog before, but as a companion of the long nights, not a signal of spring.  The sound of the winter slinking […]

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