These arrive in large numbers in autumn but many of us do not realise or know how to recognise them.
Fieldfares are large, colourful thrushes, much like a mistle thrush in general size, shape and behaviour which makes it slightly larger than a Redwing, with a plain brown back, white underwings, and grey rump and rear head. The breast has a reddish wash, and the rest of the underparts are White. The breast and flanks are heavily spotted. The male has a simple chattering song, and a chattering flight and alarm call.
They stand very upright and move forward with purposeful hops. They are very social birds, spending the winter in flocks of anything from a dozen or two to several hundred strong. These straggling, chuckling flocks that roam the UK’s countryside are a delightful and attractive part of the winter scene.
Look for them in the countryside, along hedges and in fields with Hawthorn hedges with berries are being a favourite feeding area. In late winter grass fields, playing fields and arable fields with nearby trees and hedges become a favourite place, although like their cousin the Redwing they may come into gardens in severe winters when snow covers the countryside. Towards dusk, each flock settles down for the night, sometimes in a hedge or a plantation, but often along the furrows of a ploughed field or in the marshes. If a tall hedge is selected, all alight to face in the same direction.
Its English name, dating back to at least the twelfth century, derives from the Anglo Saxon feld-fere meaning “traveller through the fields”, probably from their constantly moving, foraging habits.
An abundant winter visitor to Norfolk, the fieldfare’s distribution varies, at times surprisingly, from winter to winter. The flocks arriving here mainly from Southern Norway soon make their way inland. Some years the first arrivals take place as early as August, although the migration is not risk free and often die due to adverse weather or the predation of gulls. In severe winters fieldfares are forced to retreat from East Anglia and they then head westward across the Irish Sea.
Fieldfares breed in Scandinavia and the former Soviet Union including the Baltic States. In central Europe the breeding range has extended to Holland, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and France.
Only a proportion of the Scandinavian fieldfares migrate. The remainder must be very tough and spend the winter in their home countries, often in very large numbers. By mid-November normal fieldfare emigration in Scandinavia is at an end unless weather conditions become severe. Then and particularly if the berry crop fails, ‘weather migrants’ may arrive in East Anglia at any time during December or even in January.
If you want to see a picture of a Field fare CLICK HERE or go to Photo Album > Wildlife > November
This is a bird which lots of people do not recognise but are a common winter visitor. You may not have realised it but you may have often seen them in fields in small flocks as small as just half a dozen up to large ones of about 200.
Its creamy strip above the eye and orange-red flank patches make it distinctive. The English name derives from the bird’s red underwing and this is the most striking identification feature.
The redwing is most commonly encountered as a winter bird which flies into this part of the country mainly from Scandinavia. They roam across the UK’s countryside, feeding in fields and hedgerows, rarely visiting gardens, except in the coldest weather when snow covers the fields and you might be lucky to get a close view.
Migrants arrive from September, with most in October and November. They leave again in March and April, although occasionally birds stay later. In open countryside it likes hedges and orchards as well as open, grassy fields. Will come to parks and gardens. Often joins with flocks of fieldfares.
It breeds in northern regions of Europe and Asia, from Iceland south to northernmost Scotland, and east through Scandinavia, the Baltic States, northern Poland and Belarus, and through most of Russia.
If you want to see a picture of one CLICK HERE or look in the Photo Album > Wildlife > November.