Sunday, 24 October 2010

They're here...in their gangs.


The fieldfares have arrived.
A few years ago I went to a talk on "Birds of Morocco" - lovely slides but few birds on them and the commentary went something like this: "There was a huge flock of XYorZ here but as I took the photo they all flew off!" Since then we have called this kind of thing 'a Morocco experience'. Well, I had a Morocco experience this morning while on the phone to a friend.
My first big fieldfare flock of the Winter swooped in and landed in a hawthorn tree which is laden with berries. It is a very bright morning and as they landed I saw the bright white side of their underwing. In no time at all the tree was full and they were scoffing the berries as though they had not fed for a week.
After the phone call I dashed outside with my camera - they were only on the far side of the paddock; but the action of shutting the back door startled them and away they flew before I had tie to click.
Of course, the photograph above shows you why they had landed. This is a very good berry year here and fieldfares love the hawthorn berries, the holly berries and the crab apples - and our trees are full of them. They also eat worms and insects on the ground. But they are profligate feeders - as are all birds I suppose. They come in - mainly from Scandinavia -and they eat all the berries. Then, when the ground is frozen hard there is a shortage of food for them as theworms and insects are not available then either. I do wish they would concentrate on the worms now and leave the berries for the frozen days to come. Still, there is a plus side because really bad weather often forces them to come to the bird table and then we get a much closer look. They are such exotic and wild looking birds and I love them. Funnily enough I have seen them in Scandinavia in the summer and there they seem quite tame and will eat from around your feet.
So, welcome fieldfares - your cousins, the redwings, have been here for a week or two. I look forward to seeing you swooping about the fields with your chak-chak-chak call for the next five or six months. Could you please leave a few berries on the holly so that we can bring them inside at Christmas?

10 comments:

Heather said...

I love fieldfares too Pat - they don't reach us until much later in the winter and only then if it is pretty cold. It seems early for them to me - does that mean another harsh winter? I had a Morocco moment too, this morning when I attempted to photograph two very handsome magpies on the lawn. There were also two woodpigeons and it looked at one point as if there might be feathery fisticuffs. Talk about the one(s) that got away!

George said...

I'm not familiar with fieldfares being one of our species in the U.S. I have often seen cedar waxwings, however, swoop in as a flock and totally devour the berries on a large tree in a matter on seconds.

ArtPropelled said...

I always seem to be having "a Morocco experience" since our birds are all camera shy and the moment I surreptitiously produce the camera they take flight....well except for the hadedas. The hawthorn berries are a wonderful rich red aren't they?!

MorningAJ said...

I love the Morocco Experience! And I know it so well from my own photography. Those berries look good though.

This year for the first time I treid a Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall recipe for hawthorn sauce. It comes out a bit like Chinese plum sauce that you eat with duck. We had a bottle of it last week with a couple of duck breasts. Yummy!

Poet in Residence said...

OK, you win. I've seen flocks of starling going over and that's about it. Except for the crows that are now here. And yesterday about 5 of them, taking it in turns, were noisily and persistently attacking two red milans who appeared to be getting more and more exhausted. A raven then arrived on the scene and like a God on broomstick he sailed silently through the lot of them. The whole raging battle then disappeared behind some tall bushes.
It's now the season of 'feathery fisticuffs' as Heather calls it! (Comment 1).

Pondside said...

Once again, sent to Google by a blog reference! Fieldfares aren't known to me......... yet!

The Wife of a Dairyman said...

The berries are just beautiful....perfect for Christmas if there will be any left:)

Crafty Green Poet said...

I love fieldfares, last year was the only year I've ever seen them in any number in Edinburgh though we often see them in flocks along the railways throughout Scotland

Crafty Green Poet said...

and yes, lots of 'Morocco experiences' here too

jeannette said...

Weaver,
Have some good news for you, if you still like to get the pattern for the Gwynedd hat that I posted. I added the link to my post (http://www.knitscene.com) Just click on it and it will take you to the Fall issue 2010.