Thursday, 16 February 2012

Fieldfares in the Garden

After the very mild weather we have experienced in much of the UK for most of the Winter I suspect the recent severe frosts, ice and snow were quite a shock to the system for many of us. The bonus though, since the snowfall, has been that the Winter Thrushes have been dropping into many of our gardens in search of sustenance. Apparently, compared with the week which ended with the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch on the 28th and 29th of January, there have been over twice as many Redwings and over five times as many Fieldfares seen in gardens! Luckily, my garden has been one of them :)


Even though the cold snap had not yet descended on us, I recorded a Redwing in the garden on bird count day which was very pleasing on what was otherwise a very poor day, bird wise, with many of my regular daily visitors deciding to play truant and keep their names off the list this year. My (disappointing) tally of the most birds seen at one time during one designated hour was as follows:

Greenfinch 9; Collared Dove 6; Wood Pigeon 4; Chaffinch 3; Goldfinch 2; House Sparrow 2; Feral Pigeon 1; Blue Tit 1; Robin 1; Blackbird 1; Jackdaw 1; Redwing 1.

Last year on bird count day, in colder weather, I recorded Blackcap, Redwing and Brambling in addition to the regulars. I was surprised not to record any Great Tits or Coal Tits on this year's list, they are usually regular, daily visitors and of course the Long-tailed Tits only showed up a few days after the count!

Anyway, back to the Winter Thrushes in my garden, and although I have seen Redwings feeding on Cotoneaster berries several times I unfortunately failed to get photos. It has been Fieldfares who have been boldest and unable to resist the apple halves I have been putting out since the Wintry weather tightened its grip. I should add that all of the photos in this post were taken from indoors, through glass and some of them (they were taken over two days) were in poor light.

One Fieldfare in particular was fiercely defensive of the apples and every time another one approached any of the halves, it would see it off very aggressively! The Blackbirds especially suffered its aggression and couldn't get even a morsel. There was quite a lot of fruit eaten in a short time!

Look at that tongue!

It is a sad fact that after their overnight flight from Scandinavia some of these lovely migrants are hijacked, just as they are approaching our shores, by Great Black-backed Gulls seeking an easy meal. The gulls pounce on the tired birds and force them into the water where exhaustion sadly overcomes them. However, for many the journey is successful and they will spend the Winter here enjoying the fruits of our countryside and gardens.

'He sits in winter's sleet, and the snow is round his feet, 
But he cares not for the cold;
For his little cheerful heart thinks the snow as fair a part
As the summer's green and gold.'
(From a collection, edited by
James Manning Sherwood)

Towards dusk Fieldfares will flock together and settle for the night, often in a tall hedge all facing the same direction... for some reason, to me, that conjures up visions of lots of bottles stacked in a wine rack! I do have a weird and wonderful imagination sometimes, well maybe more weird than wonderful ;-)

Just as it defended its food in my garden, the Fieldfare will fiercely defend it's nest in the breeding season in its summer quarters, often by bombarding egg seeking marauders with faeces! ;-)


'We've taken quarters here till spring-
'Till then we'll stay;
But, soon as birds begin to sing,
We'll fly away!'
(Thomas Fisher)

The snow has all gone here now and today has been much milder but it was lovely, during the recent harsh weather, to get a closer look at the Winter Thrushes in my garden.

Until next time... enjoy the beauty of Nature, wherever you are.


  1. they're so beautiful. look so much like our American Robins - especially when our robins are young and show the spots, still.

    migration sounds SO rough!

  2. You have got some lovely images here Jan, I have not seen many Fieldfares this winter.

  3. Your images are wonderful Jan, very clear. I've seen lots of these this year but don't think I managed any last year. I do hope that it gets warmer very soon...

  4. What a fantastic set of pics!! It's strange how some birds do and don't turn up when we are looking for them. I used to do a New Year count and we missed Pied Wagtail one year among many others!! :-) Lovely post.

  5. Songbird,
    I may have some big lenses, but you have all the Fieldfare photo's ! I cant get near them, not that there are many here this year.

    Nice read as always today :-)

  6. Nie ma się co dziwić kwiczołowi, że nie chciał się podzielić jedzeniem, on był widocznie bardzo głodny. Ptaki teraz mają trudne życie i musimy im pomagać. U nas też jest sporo tych ślicznych ptaków, a na drzewach coraz mniej do jedzenia. Ślicznie je podglądnąłeś. Pozdrawiam cieplutko. *** It's no surprise the bird did not want to share food, he was obviously very hungry. Birds now have a difficult life and we must help them. We also are a lot of these beautiful birds and the trees less and less to eat. They've done pretty pictures. Yours warm.

  7. Excellent shots! They are funny rolly polly birds. I haven't gotten to the point of putting fruit out yet, but I love that these birds eat it out in the open.

  8. Some beautiful images of some beautiful birds!
    We have had 1 Redwing and 5 Fieldfares in our garden, but with the snow melting and the milder weather upon us these have gone elsewhere!
    Follow me at HEDGELAND TALES

  9. They are lovely birds aren't they? We saw some in our garden shortly after the cold snap ~ I never though of putting some apples out but there were a few berries remaing. Great images :)

  10. You had a bigger bird count than I did Jan. All that visited my garden were a few pigeons. lol
    I'm sure they know when a count is on.

    You got some great captures of these birds. They're usually so shy.
    Another excellent post.

  11. I've had a great time looking at all these smashing photos. Each year on garden birdwatch day, a vast array of birds seem to appear... next door! Only once the hour is up will any of them decide to step foot onto our side of the fence!

  12. Great Fieldfare pics Jan. I've never recorded one in my garden unfortunately.
    It's funny how inviting the snow looks in your pictures, despite the fact that I was so pleased when it had gone from here!

  13. I have discovered a new bird today and learned some very interesting behavior thanks to you. A very, very interesting post and I always love your photos. Thank you so much!

  14. How to be clever with a camera, brilliant Fieldfare shots.

  15. TexWisGirl

    Thank you, Theresa. Yes, I agree migration is a tough and hazardous time. I'm glad I don't have to do it :-)


    Thank you Roy, I think I have seen more this year than I usually do!


    Thank you Toffeeapple. It has been quite a lot milder here today but I'm not sure how long it will last, roll on Spring :-)

    Alan Pavey

    Thank you Alan :-) You have reminded me that I usually see a Pied Wagtail in the garden in the bad weather but I realise that this year I haven't. Of course I may not have looked at the right time.

    Warren Baker

    Thank you Warren :-) It seems strange you haven't seen many there this time. It seems to be a good year for them in this area.


    Thank you very much Giga. You are right, the birds do have a difficult time nowadays with so much of their habitation being lost because of human interference. It is very sad but at least we can try to help by putting food in the garden for them. :-)
    Dziękuję bardzo Giga. Masz rację, że ptaki mają trudny czas w dzisiejszych czasach tak wiele ich zamieszkania giną z powodu ludzkiej ingerencji. To bardzo smutne, ale przynajmniej możemy spróbować pomóc, umieszczając żywność w ogrodzie dla nich. :-)

  16. Rohrebot

    Thank you Chris. They are rather chunky looking! There were a lot of windfall apples in the garden in the Autumn but the Blackbirds soon ate those :-)


    Thank you, John. Yes it is the same here, not so much activity now it's a bit milder. It was nice
    while it lasted though... the birds I mean not the snow :-)


    Thank you, yes they are lovely birds, Chrissy. Apples are always a good magnet I find and Pears too I believe although I haven't put them out myself so far.


    Thank you Keith, It's a wonder I didn't have a huge tally of Feral Pigeons! They have suddenly started visiting in large gangs, I never used to get them at all. They're a bit of a pain really ;-)

  17. a very smart count for your yard!! Love the photos you got of the Fieldfare, this bird looks so very much like our American Robin, the face, the size, the shape of the body, the way he moves, the way his wings set, only our robin has a rusty red breast.

  18. Fantastic set of shots, Jan.

  19. Great set of images Jan, and fieldfares make such great subjects,Have not seen so many down here this year, must be due to the mild weather further north.

  20. Nice set of we have had a severe winter and i had the oportunity of seeing those......
    Saludos from Spain!

  21. I really enjoyed reading this post Jan, and your images are superb...[;o)

  22. Jerry

    Thank you Jerry. I think you are right. Perhaps they have little calendars in their roosts with a note on RSPB day reminding them to annoy us by staying away ;-)


    Thank you Phil, Yes, I think the snow always looks much nicer in hindsight. I'm surprised your garden has never had Winter Thrushes. If you haven't already, try putting the apples out in a really cold snap, if it doesn't work the Blackbirds will love them anyway :-)


    Thank you very much Denise, I'm glad you enjoyed it. It was fun to find out some things I didn't know about the Fieldfare while preparing my post.

    Bob Bushell

    Thank you very much Bob, you are very kind :-)


    Thank you Sondra, I have seen your American Robin on lots of blogs and can see what you mean and as it too is in the Thrush family it makes them cousins :-) and of course our English Robin is no relation to either of them!

  23. Another nice blog. Well done Jan.

  24. Great to see the Fieldfares visiting your garden Jan. A great photo opportunity. A lovely set of shots.

  25. Great post and a lovely bird. They do look like the robin we have here in the US. Wonderful photos.

  26. Dean

    Thank you very much, Dean :-)


    Thank you, Monty. Yes, they are very striking birds. I am sure there have been more than usual where I am, I have certainly seen more than I usually do :-)


    Thank you very much :-) It is nice that we are compensated for suffering harsh Winter weather by seeing more of these lovely birds but it seems very strange to someone in England to think of your country having a severe Winter!!

    The Herald

    Thank you very much, Trevor, you are very kind. I'm glad you enjoyed the post, I enjoyed preparing it :-)

  27. Mike Attwood

    Thank you very much Mike :-)

    Midmarsh John

    Thank you, John. It was nice to have Fieldfares in the garden, a pity some of them weren't in better light though.


    Thank you Eileen, Yes, they are lovely and, like your Robin, members of the Thrush family.

  28. BOnsoir et merci pour tes photos j'en vois souvent ici en ce moment
    tes photos sont très belles
    ELLES passent dans le jardin et tu sais même si je bouge ( mais qu'en peu bien entendu) elles restent là à chercher de la nourriture
    J'aime beaucoup cet oiseau
    Merci et bonne soirée

  29. We only have fieldfares in autumn, eating the hawthorn berries, and then they are gone. To your garden perhaps.

  30. Very nice pictures! Last week we had a few in our garden.. I havent seen them ever before!
    Many greetings from Switzerland
    Yvonne & Raphael

  31. France

    Thank you very much for your kind comments. Yes, they are lovely birds and it is nice that they visit our gardens in the bad weather. I hope you are having a good Sunday :-)
    Merci beaucoup pour vos aimables commentaires. Oui, ils sont beaux oiseaux et il est agréable qu'ils visitent nos jardins dans le mauvais temps. J'espère que vous avez un bon dimanche :-)


    Thank you very much, Crystal. Yes, perhaps they did :-) They seem to have gone now the weather has improved though but it was nice having them for a while.

    Das sind Raphael und Yvonne

    Welcome, Yvonne and Raphael! Thank you so much for visiting and for your very kind comments. It seems many of us have been lucky enough to have had visits from these lovely birds. They also visited me last Winter when the snow was on the ground. I hope they visit you again too :-)

  32. Beautiful shots of the handsome Fieldfares. Have seen very few round here this mild winter. You are lucky to have them in your garden!

  33. Lovely images and interesting info about these winter visitors. We're still in the midst of mild weather here, which is really unusual for us in February. Our national bird count was this past weekend, and I'm not sure I'll even turn in my count--10 sparrows! Yes, that is all I saw this weekend in my yard, which usually is as far as I go in recording species. The dark-eyed juncos, our usual winter visitors like your thrushes, haven't even been around this winter. I hope this means they're all finding sufficient food somewhere else. I'm looking forward now to seeing the robins and other spring birds very soon!

  34. These are very lovely photographs....
    your Fieldfares remind me of our Robins. They are Thrushes too.
    Your count sounds respectable!
    I just finished our bird count. always nice to see how the populations are doing.
    I too give fruit to the birds. Our Robins like raisins! Thank you for so much information about the Fieldfares. I think they are very charming!

  35. Really excellent photos and information. I love learning about new birds. They do look like our American Robins.

  36. Jeremy

    Thank you, Jeremy. I think handsome is exactly the right word to describe Fieldfares. Unlike you, I think I have seen more in my area than in other years. The apple halves I put out were definitely what attracted them to the garden during the snow, the same happened last Winter :-)


    Thank you Rose. It has been a very strange Winter here, mostly exceptionally mild but then a sudden couple of weeks of severe weather just recently and now milder again and set to be very mild indeed at the end of the week. Yesterday many parts of England were declared a drought area!
    I am sure the birds play hide and seek when we have our bird counts ;-) many of my 'regulars' stayed away.


    Thank you, Sherry. Yes they are cousins and both very attractive I think. I too put raisins out, they are favourites of our Blackbirds, another member of the Thrush family :-)

    Country Mouse Studio

    Thank you Carole, I love learning about them too, such a fascinating subject. I hope all is well with you and that the Winter is not being too unkind there.

  37. Hello Jan, sorry I've been behind in my visits but glad to know you're posting again. As always it's a treat to see the birds in your photos. Looking at bird pictures from colder climes with all that snow in winter, I feel if we had the same conditions, close-shots of feeding birds would be so lovely to get!! I know I shouldn't be complaining but it's a thought that comes to mind every time I see such photos!

    Loved reading the details about the Fieldfare (new to me). Interesting how faeces can be used as a deterrent!;) And I think your imagination is wildly wonderful! Loved the analogy with wine bottles!

  38. Nature Rambles

    Thank you very much, Kanak. The snow does make a nice backdrop but that is about the only thing I can think of to recommend it ;-)

    I am glad you liked my analogy, at least there is one person who could 'see' what I meant. :-)

  39. That first shot is stunning. nice to get such a bird in the garden. It's a rare bird ove rhere but we occasionally can see it.

  40. Chris

    Thank you very much, Chris. It seems to have been a good year for them where I live but they only visit my garden when the weather is very cold.

  41. Hi Jan,

    I love the Fieldfare. They visit my garden each winter but I have never managed to get images. I am obviously doing something wrong :(
    Nature is so harsh isn't it.....but then everything has to eat to survive. I just do not like hearing about it. Always makes me feel somewhat sad.

    I saw a treecreeper today visiting the old apple tree. Time I went in and got my camera it had gone.
    They often visit....such pretty little birds.

    Tku for your sweet comment re Mum. The blogging community are so caring and kind, it never ceases to amaze me.

  42. Wow, Jan what an absolute delight the fieldfare must be (despite its aggression) to have in your garden and the bonus that it stays long enough for you to get photos. What a lovely collection of images you have captured.

    Fieldfares look fantastic in snow don’t they? We have had them pass through our garden (a small number) a few years ago. This year (so far) the snow shovels at the ready in garages and sheds in my area haven’t been out at all. March could change that but the flowers are storming on and it would be a great shame if they get wasted.

    Enjoy your current garden visitors :-)

  43. lucky, very good photos of the Fieldfare and without leaving your garden, congratulations

  44. Cheryl

    Thank you Cheryl, the Fieldfares were a joy to see, the harsh weather made them much bolder in their search for food. I think if you put apple halves in the garden, not too far from a window and when there is snow on the ground, you may well get some photos of them too.
    How lovely to see Treecreepers in your garden, they are indeed lovely little birds and I am always surprised by just how small they are in reality compared with how they look in photos
    I am holding you and your family in my thoughts and really do know what a difficult and uncertain time it is for you all.


    Thank you, Shirl, it was indeed a delight to have them visit, the bad weather does make them much braver, the survival instinct of course.
    I hope you don't get any sudden, harsh weather although I remember we once had heavy and deep snow at the end of April here!
    I hope your husband is still improving, have a good week :-)

    Tomas Crespo

    Thank you so much for visiting again Tomas and also for becoming a follower. Yes, it was nice to enjoy the Fieldfares from the comfort of a warm room :-)

  45. Just a marvelous Spring filled post - thoroughly enjoyed each and every photo plus your commentary and excerpts.

  46. good sign that primaver has arrived, great pictures,
    What food you give to the Long-tailed Tits?
    best regards

  47. Glo

    Thank you very much for your kind comment Glo. I'm so glad you enjoyed it :-)

    Tomas Crespo

    Thank you very much Tomas. The Long-tailed Tits like to eat suet or fat treats containing peanuts. Also seed mixes and unsalted peanuts. Of course in Summer they like to find insects naturally.

  48. Thank you very much for the reply, now I understand why my message was not, jejejejjeej, I´m sorry
    I will try to Long-tailed Tits about the next winter, Thank you very much again.

  49. Tomas

    Thank you for coming back again Tomas! I am so pleased you understood and managed to find the reply :-)

    Good luck with attracting the Long-tailed Tits.


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