WINTER is a wondrous time for birdwatching. Though many species depart our UK skies after summer for warmer climes elsewhere, they are substituted by countless winged migrants seeking solace from even icier winters overseas.

From fields and woodlands to coasts and even supermarket carparks, there is no shortage of places to see migrant winter birdlife across the UK.

Perhaps our most famous winter migrants are redwings and fieldfares. These thrushes arrive from Scandinavia – where they’ve escaped the bitter cold and depleted food supplies – and can be seen gorging on berries among our trees and hedgerows as well as foraging in the fields. Keep your eye out, too, for bramblings, brent geese, barnacle geese, pink-footed geese, Bewick’s swans and whooper swans.

Then there are our wintering waders who migrate to our shorelines and food-rich estuaries in frankly astonishing numbers. Every autumn the UK’s coasts and wetlands swell with over half a million lapwings, half a million dunlin, 300,000 knot, 300,000 oystercatchers, 60,000 bar-tailed godwits, 50,000 redshanks and 40,000 grey plovers.

In our region, two of the best places to see these winter wanderers are Blashford Lakes and Farlington Marshes – two nature reserves managed by Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. The latter is internationally important for waders and wildfowl. Try visiting at high tide when the birds are pushed up off the mud by the incoming water.

There are also birds known as ‘partial migrants’ that migrate in some parts of the world but not in others. Starlings are, perhaps, the most famous example as UK populations stay put for winter but those from colder countries in eastern Europe will head to the relatively balmy shores of Blighty. When huge numbers of migrant starlings join our resident populations, they can form seriously immense flocks and demonstrate unbelievable murmurations. Other partial migrants include chaffinches, robins and blackbirds.

One of the most eagerly anticipated winter arrivals is the beautiful waxwing. These striking colourful birds live in Scandinavia and eastern Europe for most of the year, but if their berry crop is poor, they’ll fly to the UK in huge numbers called ‘irruptions’. Some winters only see a handful of waxwings migrate, but in other years may appear in the tens of thousands if the weather in Scandinavia and northern Russia is particularly harsh. Waxwings are often found, of all places, in supermarket carparks, feasting on berry-laden rowan trees.