Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Fieldfare and Festive Greetings

I have never been able to decide if I prefer Fieldfare or Redwing out of the two winter visiting thrushes. The arrival of Fieldfare, when you see the large loose flocks overhead with their distinctive chattering flight calls,  is always a sign to me that winter is fast approaching,  The birds typically arrive from Scandinavia around October and quickly descend upon trees with berries with rowan  being a particular favourite.

They are a large smart looking thrush with their combination of brown back, grey head and black-spotted amber breast. When you spend quite a bit of time with these birds you notice there is quite a bit of variation in patterning with the darker coloured birds tending to be the most striking in photographs.

The unusual weather this year of a  prolonged cold spring and a warm summer seemed to provide very good conditions for berry growth and by the early autumn the trees were heavily laden and ready for the winter thrush invasion. Given the glut of berries available it took a while for the birds to arrive at the site which I usually visit to photograph them. However, when they did arrive it was en mass with a big flock of around 500 birds.

Fieldfare are quite a wary species and  the site I visit is made slight  frustrating as there is a long row of Rowan trees which the birds favour although this can only be accessed from one side. The trees never really get the low winter sun on them properly, and the majority of the day they are back lit with a bit of side lighting in the late afternoon. If only the landscape architect who designed the planting scheme had put them the other side of the road, it would have made the task for the photographer so much easier. However, the trees do attract good numbers of birds and it is just a question of looking for other nearby opportunities for  for photographing them.

Eating berries makes the birds thirsty and by positioning myself next to a puddle  provided some opportunities to capture some images of the birds drinking.
 I must have moved the lens a little too quickly as both birds stopped drinking and look straight towards me.
I found one puddle which had some reflected autumn hues on the water from the fallen leaves on the bank behind and where one particular bird decided it would bathe.

Of course as with any bird photography you often get a bonus or two along with your target species. During this session it was a striking male Bullfinch which was also taking advantage of the free berry feast.
As this is Christmas eve, I was also take the opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy, successful and wildlife-filled New Year.


Barbara said...

Thank you for your beautiful images, and merry Christmas to you too.

Brian said...

Happy Christmas Rich. You've produced some great images again this year - keep it up! ..... and I love the warm colours of that last fieldfare shot.

The happy wanderer. said...

I hope you had a very happy festive season and look forward to more wonderful images. I also really like the last Fieldfare image especially.

Sharon Whitley said...

The two fieldfares both looking at you is genius!


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