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?