|Fieldfare amongst the windfalls (c. Shay Connolly)|
Whilst the weather has swung back to mild and wet, it was a chilly minus 3 a week back: weather like that can bring birds new into to your garden, a a correspondent, Ray Walsh, in County Meath reported:
" Five or six birds have arrived in my back garden over the past few days, the size of a thrush, and are attacking the Blackbirds that are feeding on the apples left on the ground. The birds are dark around the eye, mottled chest with reddy brown colour, brown wings and tail, and very grey looking from the back ".
That amounts to a very good description of Fieldfares, a so called 'winter thrush' that visits us from Scandanavia. They are, as the name suggests, more typically associated with open fields and keen on perching up high on hedgerows, and they are quite aggressive, much like our Mistle Thrushes. Whilst it has been a great winter for a profusion of berries on Holly and Hawthorn, these go very quickly and hungry birds will descend on gardens in cold spells, particularly if you provide a surefire incentive:
Apples in particular , left as windfalls will be eagerly snapped up and even if you don't have your own orchard, many green grocers and shops will supply you with any fruit that is past its sell by date or otherwise 'spoilt' for human consumtion or sale.
|(C. Shay Connolly)|
Try spreading fruit, or spiking a tree on cold mornings and see if you can attract the Fieldfare or Redwing: two of the brightest birds in mid winter: the blackbirds might not be impressed, but it is known that territorial battles breakdown when it gets really cold and birds just get on with feeding, rather than lose precious energy defending a dwindling food stock..