Brecknock’s Beautiful Berry Bounty!

Allt Rhongyr Nature Reserve by Pauline Hill.

Allt Rhongyr Nature Reserve by Pauline Hill.

All around our reserves there seems to be a bounty of berries this year!

A Waxing by Keith Nobel.

A Waxing by Keith Nobel.

All around our reserves there seems to be a bounty of berries this year!

Bright red holly berries clustered around the stems, dark red haw berries gathered on short stalks on little twigs and bunches of orange-red rowan berries all add colour when the leaves have dropped. Even the hazy blue of sloes on blackthorn and black elderberries!

These berries are essential for many bird species survival through the winter months. Blackbirds and thrushes are always partial to fruit at any time of year. Their cousins, fieldfares and redwings, migrate to the UK in large flocks at this time of year to find food.

Fieldfares are similar in size and behaviour to mistle thrushes with a grey head and reddish brown back and wings. Redwings are the smallest of the thrush family. Their colouring is similar to a song thrush with an additional flash of red under their wing as they fly and a white eyebrow streak.

Fieldfares especially tend to move to a tree as a group, devour all the berries then move on to the next chattering all the time. Often fieldfares and redwings are found in the same flock. They can be tempted in to gardens by having plenty of berry forming plants and also by leaving apples out, especially during a hard winter when food becomes more scarce. You may see them up on Allt Rhongyr Nature Reserve. I saw my first fieldfare flock of 2020 on a mountain walk just before the October lockdown. A sign that winter is on its way!

Another winter migrant bird that likes berries is the Waxwing. These colourful and charismatic birds can form quite large flocks called an irruption. This is most likely to occur if it is a hard winter and berries are in short supply in their normal European range. They can be seen in good numbers around Brecon some years.

Pauline Hill, WTSWW People and Wildlife Officer - Brecknock.

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