The Redstarts are well and truly here. I heard my first on 9th April. In this part of Yorkshire they nest in areas of hedgerow with scattered old oak and ash trees which are riddled with potential nest holes. They are surely one of our most colourful small birds and each year I look forward to their return immensely. They arrive at a time when the local fields are alive with the sound of displaying Lapwing and Curlew. The addition of the song of Redstarts makes this a very special time of the year to be out.
At least three Bramblings still visit the garden to feed on sunflower hearts and niger seed. Soon they will be crossing the North sea back to Scandinavia where they breed. This male shows the Brambling moult pattern nicely. In about a month the tips of the grey and buff feathers on his head and upper back will have worn away to reveal jet black plumage. Also his beak will turn black, making the breeding plumaged male Brambling a very striking bird. I also saw a few Redwings this morning and there are flocks of hundreds of Fieldfares in pasture on the edge of Bransdale. Like the Bramblings they will soon be heading back to Scandinavia where they breed.