This month you can see Fieldfares and Redwings in flocks, often a mixture of both species, feeding on the ground or in trees and bushes. They have flown over the North Sea from Scandinavia in search of our milder winter weather.
Fieldfares and Redwings are particularly keen on the abundant crop of colourful berries which fill our hedgerows at this time of year and are an essential food source to help many species of birds through the winter. These include hawthorn, rosehips, sloe and elder. You can find an identification guide here.
Geese are one of the most prominent bird families at the Pits in the autumn and winter. You might hear them before you see them, perhaps flying overhead in V-shaped formations, grazing on the fields or swimming on the pits. The two species you are likely to see are Greylag and Canada geese. Like the winter thrushes they are often in mixed groups.
If you visit Diddington Pit, or the other pits to the north of the reserve, you will see large numbers of Lapwings. They gather on the islands and surrounding fields, and can often be seen flying in large flocks, making their characteristic “peewit” calls. Some are present all year round but many more come for the winter. If you are lucky you might spot some other waders: an avocet was seen on Washout pit in early November of this year.
If you look carefully under the trees around the pits you will find many different types of toadstools at this time of year. These are the fruiting bodies of the fungi which grow underground, invisible to us but playing a vital role in decomposing wood and vegetation. This photo shows a Collared Earthstar and was taken at the Pits recently by Eddie Sutcliffe.