Monday, 6 February 2012

A Walk with Winter Thrushes

When I said my next post would be soon, I certainly didn't mean more than two weeks later! I was hoping to get some better photos but at this time of year and with the ever present problem of a fairly short lens it really isn't possible. As I have mentioned before I do have a longer lens but it is just too heavy to take out and about and would necessitate a tripod but I prefer the versatility of hand held photography. Anyway, I should remind myself that this was never intended to be a photography blog but a Nature blog. For me, Nature and all the wonders she has to offer comes first. So with that in mind here are a few photos taken recently on a very cold walk on 'my patch'.

It really was bitingly cold and one could be forgiven for thinking that the following two photos show a sprinkling of snow but it is actually a very heavy frost which had lasted all day.

'Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where others see nothing'.
(Camille Pissarro)

There were lots of birds busily stocking up with food to help sustain them through what was to be another very cold night and I was entertained for a while by the acrobatics of a small flock of Long-tailed Tits flitting from branch to branch and tree to tree but on this occasion I was unable to get a decent photograph of their antics.

It can, perhaps, be difficult to think of much to be joyful about in the Winter in this country but one of the undoubted joys for a Nature lover is the arrival of the Winter Thrushes. Appropriately, given their name, the field adjacent to where I was walking was alive with Fieldfares foraging amongst the grass. It was a very large flock but too far away to get a photo which would do them any justice. However, there were also plenty searching the trees for berries.


'Flocking fieldfares, speckled like the thrush
Picking the red haw from the sweeping bush
That come and go on winter's chilling wing,
And seem to share no sympathy with Spring.'
(John Clare)

Although not in such large numbers as the Fieldfares there were also some Redwings in the trees.


They are principally migrants to the UK but it has been known, since the first nest was found there in 1932, that Redwings have bred in varying numbers in the highlands of Scotland. Being night time migrants, we may hear their 'tseep' overhead on a dark, still night as they migrate in the Autumn or early Winter.

The Bullfinches were also very much in evidence on my walk but oddly, I didn't see any males, only the less vibrantly coloured females.


The British ornithologist Robert Mudie (1777–1842) said of this delightful little bird,

'In shape it is the most compact and neat, and expressive of energy and strength of all our little birds. The outline of its head and bill is as fine as that of the most handsome of the hawks; but the bright black eye has a good deal of the prying expression of that of the magpie. The bill is, with the exception of that of the eagles and hawks, made stronger in proportion than the bill of any other British bird. The attitudes and motions of the bird, while picking buds or berries, are also very elegant'

As some readers may remember I often see Yellowhammers in this location and this time was no exception.


'Y was a young Yellowhammer,
Who raised a ridiculous clamor;
And he chattered until
An owl said, "Keep still!
I'm trying to study my grammar.'
(Caroline Wells)

This little Robin's red breast was the only touch of colour in its rather sepia looking surroundings! You can see what I mean much better if you click on the photo.


Finally, a big thank you to everyone for the very warm welcome back you gave me on my previous post after my lengthy absence from blogland. It was so kind of you and much appreciated.

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


  1. Hi Jan,

    Plenty of birdy photos! :D

    I have a few snowy bird shots that I plan to post next, although not as exciting as Fieldfares and Redwings! :)

  2. your bulfinches are so cute. and your thrushes look like their american robin cousins. :)

  3. These are beautiful pics, it looks like you're doing just fine with the lens you have! I'm the same, I sometimes fancy getting a bigger lens but I'd miss the freedom of hand-holding too much. Love the frosty pathway photo, it looks really magical.

  4. I've hardly managed a picture of Redwing, Fieldfare or Bullfinch Jan, let alone any as nice as yours. Stick with the handheld, like I do at the moment. I also refuse to carry large scopes on tripods, for the same reasons.

  5. Songbird I'm the same as phil, I cant get a winter thrush photo at all, mainly because there 'aint none here!!

    Enoy the rest of winter :-)

  6. Great post, great shots Jan. Those winter thrushes look excellent in the glow of the winter sun

  7. Bardzo mi się podoba powiedzenie Pissarro i całkowicie się z tym zgadzam. Mam nadzieję, że za bardzo nie zmarzłeś na spacerze w pogoni za ptaszkami,bo bym miała wyrzuty sumienia oglądając takie śliczne zdjęcia. Wszystkie są wspaniałe, ale ptakiem do którego mam wielką sympatię jest rudzik. Pozdrawiam serdecznie. *** I really like saying Pissarro and completely agree with that. I hope you were not very cold for a walk in search of birds, because I had a guilty conscience looking at such beautiful pictures. All are great, but the bird to which I have great affection is a robin. Best regards.

  8. hello there,

    You took some great shots. Love them . I know what you mean about the long lense. I whack that thing everywhere I go. It is a heavy piece to hold up with a steady hand!!! Great write as well. Cheers. Chris

  9. What lovely people you all are! Your supportive comments do so much to boost my confidence... I was at the back of the queue when they handed out confidence so I need every bit I can get :-)


    Thank you Liz, I will look forward to seeing your birdies.


    Thank you Theresa. Yes the Fieldfares and Redwings are quite similar to your Robin, all very elegant I think.


    Thank you very much Marianne. If only I had the muscles to hand hold a long heavy lens! I suspect the walk looks even more magical since it snowed but I think I might give it a miss at the moment ;-)


    Thanks very much Phil, you're very kind :-) The other reason I don't fancy carting a tripod around is that people might mistake me for someone who knows what they are doing ;-)

    Warren Baker

    Thanks Warren, that made me laugh. Im sure you will get some soon, probably in your very popular garden :-)

    Jason K

    Thanks very much, Jason :-) The sun makes such a difference to photos, just a pity we don't get more of it!

  10. ShySongbird ,
    I have often thought about returning to the small lens after a day humping my 100-400 around , especially if I don't use it . Really nice set of shots and combined with your choice of verse , a very pleasant read . Shame no male Bullfinch , would have gone well with the Winter sun . Favouite shot , the last Fieldfare , the one with attitude .

  11. I can't tell you how good it is to have you back with your choice verses and your pictures. If you right click on the pictures and open in a new tab, they are much bigger than if you let Blogger enlarge them.

    I have been blessed with lots of Fieldfare this year, they usually don't put in much of an appearance.

  12. Your pictures are fantastic. I didn't know Fieldfares have such bright eyes, and I love the little robin.

  13. What a bright blog you have written. There was so many birds, and the one that I can't get, the Yellowhammer, so good. Brilliant photography.

  14. Great shots with a small lens, Jan. Wish i could get near Fieldfares.

  15. Giga

    Thank you so much for your kind comment, Giga. I liked the Pissarro quote very much too and was pleased to discover it.
    Don't worry, I was very well wrapped up in lots of warm clothing so didn't feel the cold too much! Yes, the Robin is a lovely little bird :-)
    Dziękuję bardzo za komentarz rodzaju, Giga. Podobał mi się cytat Pissarro też bardzo i ucieszył się ją odkryć.
    Nie martw się, ja bardzo dobrze zapakowane w dużą ilością ciepłej odzieży tak nie czułem zimna zbyt wiele! Tak, Robin jest piękny ptaszek :-)


    Hi Chris :-) Thank you very much. I really do wish I had the strength to use the long lens when I am out but I think I will have to stick with my usual way... either that or start weight training... or maybe not :-)


    Thanks so much, Greenie. The one I have which is too heavy for me is the Sigma 150-500mm and I am so tempted by the Canon 100-400mm which I know is slightly lighter but it is such an expensive piece to buy if it too is still going to be too heavy for me to hand hold. I think I may have to carry on with the Canon 50-250mm and keep cropping.


    Thank you for your very kind words :-)
    Regarding the right click, as far as I know I actually disabled that option some time ago as it seemed some of my photos were being copied without permission, not sure why as there are far better photos around than mine ;-) but I actually reduce the size of my photos anyway because of limited storage space on Picassa so there probably isn't much difference in the end.

  16. Hi Jan,

    A beautiful winter post, full of birds that decorate the trees during these cold months.

    I have bullfinches in the garden at the moment...they are taking the buds from the cherry tree.
    Not ideal, but I do turn a blind eye :) I have around 5 males, the rest are femail.
    I have never seen so many in my garden.....

    Also have Redwind and Fieldfare feeding on the haws.....I do so love the thrush family.

    It is lovely to have you back amongst us, I missed 'my country lady'

  17. Really nice post, you do well to get the Fieldfares and Redwing as does Greenie, I can stand around for an hour or more and none come near! Maybe I should stop wearing Hi-Vis tops!! :-) Love the Bullfinch description, great observation.

  18. Hi Jan,
    Some lovely photos of the winter Thrushes there. I particularly like the Robin photo!
    It is just as important to marvel in what nature throws at us as well as getting photos of it! I just wish I could listen to myself sometimes! ;)
    Follow me at HEDGELAND TALES

  19. Dan

    Thank you Dan, The British landscape would be much the poorer without Robins for sure.

    Bob Bushell

    Thank you very much Bob, I have found a few good places for Yellowhammers round here and am lucky to see them in that particular place so close to home.


    Hi Dean, thanks very much. With a 50-250 lens there is usually quite a lot of cropping involved!
    On that day there seemed to be Fieldfares in all directions :-)

  20. A great post Jan.
    And the warm welcomes are testament to such a great person.

  21. It's always a treat to see all the different birds in your area, so many of which are unfamiliar to me. I love the photo of the robin, especially; I'm only an amateur photographer, too, but this looks like a prize-worthy photo to me! Although robins sometimes don't migrate in the winter, they are traditionally a first sign of spring here. It's been so mild this winter that I'm surprised I haven't seen any here this year.

  22. HI Jan...I am behind again.., but did want to get to you, it is nice to know you are doing well and are back with us , so the 2 weeks are fine just as long as your doing good!!
    I couldn't believe the frost it is amazing ..we don't get those heavy frost like that!!
    I like the chest pattern on the Fieldfare,and the Bullfinch is a beauty..I do like the last one very much , but they are all nice and I like the little poems you added ; ]

  23. Hi Jan! You certainly don't need a long lens. These are beautiful photos. I love how that one bird blends in so well with the bush. Those frosty photos are so nice! We haven't got any snow on the ground. just a few flurries in the air today and getting real cold tonight. After an almost 50 degree day yesterday and bright sun, it's back to gloom and cold again.. Take care and so nice to see you posting your lovely birds again!! Hugs!!

  24. Thanks so much for this lovely post .. really helpful for beginners like me, but so beautiful too, I love the quotes and verse. Very best wishes to you :-)

  25. What a wonderful post! I enjoyed the poems..the frosty leaves..and all the bird photos! Especially the little Robin in sepia.

  26. Cheryl

    Thank you very much, Cheryl. How lovely to have the Bullfinches in your garden. I have only ever seen one in mine and that was very fleetingly.
    I had a Redwing eating berries last week but haven't noticed any Fieldfares yet this time. Have a good week, Cheryl :-)

    Alan Pavey

    Thanks Alan, if I ever visit Sissinghurst, I'll keep a look out for the chap in the fluorescent jacket!! ;-)
    I was lucky with the Fieldfares particularly, they seemed to be everywhere that day.


    Thank you John. Yes I agree, it is nice to just enjoy Nature sometimes without worrying about the camera. Glad you liked the Robin photo.


    Aww, Keith! That's a lovely comment, thank you very much :-) :-)

  27. Lovely photos of the Fieldfare and Bullfinches makes up for the freezing walking weather.

  28. Rose

    Thank you for your generous words, Rose. I have seen your American Robin quite often on blogs and am always struck by how big yours is in comparison to ours! Of course, as you probably know, they are not related in any way other than name. Our little resident is probably Britain's most loved bird and is often pictured on our Christmas cards.
    I hope you get your harbinger of Spring soon Rose :-)

    grammie g

    Thank you, Grace :-) It certainly was a severe frost that day! We had a very mild Winter until the last couple of weeks but seem to be suffering for it now with snow last weekend and more to come later in the week.
    I was disappointed not to see a male Bullfinch, they have such a beautiful deep pinkish/red breast.


    Hi Ginny, Thank you very much for your kind words :-) You are right, the Fieldfare did blend in well with its surroundings.
    We had snow at the weekend and are expecting more later in the week, it's a lot colder lately than it has been all Winter! Look after yourself Ginny, you are always in my thoughts, BIG HUGS :-)

  29. A great post with some beautiful images Jan. It just goes to show that you don't need mega long lenses to take beautiful pictures...[;o)

  30. :-))) i pozdrawiam.*** :-))), And best regards.

  31. Hedgewitch

    Welcome! Thank you so much for visiting (and following) and for your generous comments, I do hope you visit again :-)


    Thank you very much Dawn, I hope all is well with you and yours.

    Midmarsh John

    Thank you very much John. They were a nice reward :-)

    The Herald

    Thank you very much Trevor, I still wish I had the muscles to use one if needed though ;-)

  32. Sorry, I am late visiting. I am happy to see you posting your thrushes. They are beautiful birds. I especially love the Yellowhammer. You photos are great, a wonderful post.

  33. These are lovely birds, and those frosty photos are wonderful. I especially liked the close up of the leaves, beautifully composed. So lovely to see you posting again.

  34. Only recently come across your blog. Fantastic photos. I've never seen a yellowhammer, at least, not yet.

  35. lovely selection of birds there SS. not got a fieldfare pic yet!

  36. BONJOUR et bien je suis au calme sur ton blog quel plaisir ces oiseaux et ces belles photos aussi
    OUI il faut les regarder et les observer
    Nous pouvons aussi siffler mais là je ne sais pas si c'est une très bonne idée

  37. Giga

    Thank you :-)


    Thank you very much, Eileen. Nothing to be sorry about at all, I know only too well how difficult it is to keep up with blogging. You are welcome whenever you can manage it :-)


    Thank you, Denise :-) Although the leaves weren't perhaps interesting in themselves, I thought they looked pretty with the frost on them.


    Welcome! Thank you very much for finding me :-) and for your kind comment. I think Yellowhammers are lovely little birds. I have never seen one in my garden but my friend who lives not far from me has had one on the bird table.
    I do hope you visit again :-)

  38. Bonjour
    De jolies photos et je découvre

  39. Thanks Jan for the last lot of info. I seem to have made my peace with adsense and my blog is now working fine, in fact I got a few more bookings for my talks.

  40. Pete

    Thank you very much Pete, there seem to be more Fieldfares here than usual and I've had them in the garden the last few days :-)


    Thank you very much for your kind comments. I am glad you enjoyed your visit :-)
    Merci beaucoup pour vos aimables commentaires. Je suis tellement contente que vous avez apprécié votre visite :-)


    Welcome! Thank you very much for visiting and for your kind comment.
    Bienvenue! Merci beaucoup pour votre visite et pour votre gentil commentaire :-)

  41. Mike Atwood

    Hi Mike, glad to hear things are sorted out now and that you have some further bookings.

    Come At Me Bro

    Thank you.

  42. Wow the bullfinches are really nice but I would also love to see a fieldfare!!! Nice post you did from your perch ;-)

  43. Bonsoir ne pouvant pas faire marcher la traduction je vais donc regarder tes photos
    Je vois bien une grive!!!!!!!!!! j'en vois ici aussi mais elles sont assez rapides je trouve
    J'aime beaucoup ton blog
    alors à bientôt

  44. Very nice bullfinch pic! always so colorfull and hard to see (for me).
    Saludos from Spain!

  45. Chris

    Thank you very much, Chris. Since we had the snow there have been Fieldfares in the garden so I have been able to watch them more closely :-)


    Thank you very much. I am sorry the translation did not work for you. I have tried it and it seems to be working, it must have been having a temperamental moment when you visited ;-)
    You are quite right, there are some Thrush photos. They are Fieldfares and Redwings which both belong to the Thrush family and only visit the UK in the Winter which is why we call them Winter Thrushes.
    Merci beaucoup. Je suis désolé la traduction ne fonctionne pas pour vous. Je l'ai essayé et il semble fonctionner, il doit avoir été d'avoir un moment de tempérament lorsque vous avez visité ;-) Vous êtes tout à fait raison, il ya quelques photos Grive. Ils sont Grives litornes et mauvis qui tous deux appartiennent à la famille des grives et unique visite au Royaume-Uni à l'hiver et c'est pourquoi nous les appelons grives hiver.

    Welcome! Thank you so much for visiting, commenting and also following :-) I had difficulty finding Bullfinches too but have been pleased to see them in that particular place quite a lot recently.

  46. Beautiful series of Turdus, curious not to see any male bullfinch, luck next

  47. Hello there Jan, so sad to think of you feeling you lack confidence. Through your blogs, I don’t see you like that and I bet others don’t either :-)

    I do enjoy the images you chose to share on your walks. I know only too well what it is like to choose the ones that support your blog ‘story’ too. A nice job once again :-D

    I do love to see the winter thrushes too. We’ve not had much at all in the way of low temps & snow (so far) this winter. So… not much in the way of thrushes either. However, one bright day… a Redwing stopped by. By the time I realised what I was looking at and grabbed a camera… yep… it was gone!

  48. Tomas Crespo

    Welcome! Thank you very much for visiting and for your kind comments. I too thought it was curious not to see any male Bullfinches but as you say perhaps I will have better luck next time :-)


    Hi Shirley, Thank you very much :-) Yes, it has always been a problem, possibly because I had quite a sheltered childhood due to ill health but blogland is such a friendly place (well the part I choose to inhabit is!) and every one is always so kind -:)
    I'm glad to hear you had a visit from a Redwing, of course it's always the way that the camera isn't to hand at the right moment, sooo frustrating!! They are beautiful birds though, very elegant I always think.
    Nice to know the Winter hasn't been too unkind to you... Of course there is still time ;-)
    Have a lovely weekend, Shirl.

  49. Love, love, love seeing your winter visitors....
    Love, love, love catching up with you.

  50. Q

    Thank you very much, Sherry and sorry for the late reply. Have a lovely week :-)


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