I’ve always had fascinations towards our visiting winter thrushes especially in regards to Redwing and Fieldfare. I think it could well be that these species in particular are every vismigger’s dream with visions of the big day movements passing through their local recording areas.

Today I wish to turn to the Redwing and in particular to its roosting records. Once the main migration has started from say the middle of October through to early November, and from then on throughout the winter months, the birds can sometimes be seen roosting on Hutton Roof.  If I take the footpath which goes from the Plain Quarry Car Park and up through Dalton Crags there is every chance I may see some of the roosting birds from the previous evening, as a rule I would not expect numbers to be in excess of 100 birds or so, so I guess in volume “ours” could be considered a small roost. 

On another occasion I remember one year following the birds and finding their small roost at the top of Dalton Crags (North West Side) near to the wall boundary with Lancelot Clark Storth.  I witnessed them going down into a medium sized Pine tree with a couple more smaller trees close by. I watched them for over one hour and noted that they were restless and moving low all the time from there to other trees perhaps 50-100 yards away and eventually coming back and settling into the Pine Tree.  Of particular interest was the calls they were making, it was a contact call I had never heard before, which to me seemed totally alien to what you may have expected from a Redwing, more of a gruff sort of call. You should see a sonogram further down the page and if you click on the left hand side arrow it should play this particular rare roost contact call. I think this particular roosting site was very temporary, and although I did see the same area being used the following year I can’t say I have never seen it being used since. But I have to say it was lovely to watch even though it may have been of a very small number of birds in this particular roost site.

Another splendid occasion I would like to recall was on Sunday October 10th2010.  It was 1800hrs and close to dusk when we arrived at the B.A.P. Memorial seat half way up Lancelot Clark Storth,  immediately on arrival we noticed large parties of Redwings going overhead, some really low down, we had no idea how long this had been going on before our arrival, but they just kept on coming for 35 minutes or so even though it was starting to get dark. I noticed all the birds were coming in from a SE direction and making out to a NW direction, the wind that day was East 5-8mph. I had no idea whether this had been a “all day” movement, but considering the time of the day, it did make me wonder if perhaps they were heading to a roost somewhere nearby!  I went up to the same spot over the next night or two and never again witnessed this fabulous experience so maybe they were just moving through our area. Just for the records that experience consisted of a Redwing count of 1472 (33 parties, with some parties of 170 and a few of 100 etc.

Now then that may sound good numbers recorded, but what happened only yesterday (18thNovember) was what I consider phenomenal in comparison and it was the main reason that go me started with this short article on Redwing roost. A friend from down in East Lancs phoned me to tell me about a massive Redwing roost site which had been discovered down in the Ribble Valley at a place called Kemple End, an area on the side of Longridge Fell and not far from Stoneyhurst or Clitheroe. It sounded really special with reports of over 20 thousand birds and for us sounded too irresistible to miss out. So Sandra and I decided that was our destination, we had to go and witness this fine spectacle. We were not to be disappointed we arrived on site for about 1545hrs and by 1605hrs everything was in full swing with large sways of birds coming through thick in numbers from a South/South West direction, although it was obvious we were at the best place to receive the main concentration overhead which was conveniently a small car park, but also the birds were coming through strong at another point almost 100 yards on a wider line to the west, each minute of view saw hundreds of birds within your single viewpoint and this just kept building and building in numbers with equal or more continuity, and this heavy concentration continued over a period of some 25 minutes.  I guess there would have been at least 30 thousand Redwing! I know that sounds incredible numbers for thrushes but sure enough it happened before our very eyes. Also we noted up to 50 or so Blackbirds which sort of flew just slightly beneath the Redwing flock and I am sure there would also have been hundreds of Song Thrush as well and guess what? There was at least one Peregrine in sight at times spooking the Redwing before all went quiet, and sure he must have got his supper! This today was something really rare and special and I believe the phenomena as already been going on for several days now……Just a bonus or what but has the Redwings started to thin out the Woodcock started coming out of their daytime roost to go foraging and we witnessed at least 8 birds.


This is a fabulous little video posted live this evening by Craig Bell of Rossendale showing the Redwings on their way into the roost in Kemple End, (Ribble Valley) Lancs. Tuesday 19th November 2019 (approx 1600hrs). Please click over the arrow....