To start this story, I have to go all the way back to the end of April. I went birding to one of our usual locations in Babworth woods. I walked down a woodland slope, and noticed that a farmer had ploughed the field. I stopped and looked: to my amazement, I saw at least 30 fieldfares gathered, ready to leave for the summer. I turned the camera on and positioned myself for taking a few pictures, and, as I stepped forward I stood on a branch. The branch snapped, and the flock dispersed. I did manage to get a few distant snaps of the last few, but I came home gutted – chance gone.
Now the time has come around for the return of this amazing large thrush. Alison and I discussed where to go on Sunday, 16th October for our usual birding session. Alison suggested going to see if we could see any redwings or fieldfares. I replied, “OK, where do you want to go? Your choice!” She suggested the green mile down the canal where we had seen the heron catch a mouse. We parked up and off we went along the towpath, heading back to Ranby.
As we got towards the second bridge, Alison said, “look on the telegraph wires, there’s some big birds – they look like redwings or fieldfares.”
As we started to try and identify through the bins, 40 or 50 flocked in from the higher bushes. Wow! Fieldfares: loads of them! They must have just started arriving. Just what we had come to see, right on time.
As you can see, the fieldfare is a large thrush with a long tail. It carries a beautiful grey head and nape and a beautiful ochre chest with distinctive black collar, heavily spotted below and the breast has a dull yellowy tinge.
The fieldfare will nest in woodlands, bushes, shrubs and avenues of trees, and will flock in fields and other grassy areas, taking rowan berries and other fallen fruit to eat.
Autumn migrants to the UK, they make a squeaky “gih gih” sound followed by a chattering “schack schack”. In flight they make a drawn out faster song, especially when pursuing crows, etc. They nest in small colonies, usually in the fork of a tree. Their 4 to 5 eggs are roughly the size of a blackbird’s, a paleish bluey grey with brownish speckles.
You can’t believe how we actually felt to turn up at exactly the right time and place to capture these fantastic migratory birds, especially when I didn’t get them collectively when gathering to leave.
To now get them arriving back in our country – marvellous. We’ve come full circle: leaving in April and returning in October – a fantastic birding session followed by Sunday dinner with the missus: what more can a man want? Fare enough.