Today on #WorldMigratoryBirdDay we are celebrating the journey and adventures of migrating birds. 

A welcome sign of spring in Herefordshire is the return of the Redstarts. These red tail-wagging birds arrive in the north and west of Britain between April and May (mostly from Africa where they winter), to breed in the damp wooded areas in our cooler climate.

At Turnastone this year they have already been busy building nests and Zoology student Katie Morgans has found a clutch of blue eggs laid by one breeding pair inside one of our wooden nest boxes.

Redstarts are similar to Robins in stature but are more likely to be seen in trees than on the ground and the striking red tail in both sexes and black face with a white forehead in males is an obvious difference. Listen out for the males sweet warbling song which reminds me somewhat of the first half of a wren’s song.

Whitethroats are summer migrants that previously bred on both Awnells Farm and Turnastone Court Farm in 2021, this year I have recorded males singing on multiple occasions so far also. Their song has a strange, scratchy tone to it, somewhat resembling a cassette tape rewinding.

To me, their song also sounds very similar to the sub-song of the male Blackcap (another summer visitor) but is generally shorter in length and has a slightly faster tempo. Common Whitethroats are distributed across more of Britain than Redstarts but similarly fly south-west to Africa in the Autumn where they spend their winter.  

Migrating bird species present on Awnells Farm and Turnastone Court Farm:

  • Common Redstart - summer visitor
  • Chiffchaff - summer visitor
  • Blackcap - summer visitor, although there is a resident population that overwinters here too
  • Common Whitethroat - summer visitor
  • Swift - summer visitor
  • Swallow - summer visitor
  • House martin - summer visitor
  • Redwing - Winter visitor
  • Fieldfare - Winter visitor

By Ruth Moss, CRT Wildlife Monitor