A couple of days ago I posted a gallery of images of the UK’s largest resident thrush – the Mistle Thrush. Here by way of comparison (and because it’s such a beautiful bird anyway) is another thrush, the Fieldfare Turdus pilaris. Unlike the Mistle Thrush, which it resembles in size and shape (distant flying birds can be a little difficult to separate unless they’re seen well or they’re calling – the loud ‘shook, shook’ calls of Fieldfares are very distinctive), the Fieldfare is almost entirely a winter visitor here with just a few pairs breeding in the UK (the first breeding in Britain was in 1967 when a pair nested in Orkney; very small numbers have continued nesting fairly regularly in Scotland and central England’s Peak District).
The majority of ‘our’ Fieldfares originate in Scandinavia, where they are abundant breeders. They usually start arriving in October, and depending on the availability of food and weather conditions will have spilled across the entire UK by the end of the month/mid November. Almost always found with Redwings Turdus iliacus, another very common winter visitor, Fieldfares will take a wide variety of food, though don’t often come into gardens in any numbers – unless the garden has a substantial crop of fallen apples which these lovely birds seem to relish (in fact, its almost worth planting an orchard just to get close views of this beautifully-marked migrant thrush!).
All photographs copyright Charlie Moores 2009