Sunday, January 20, 2013

Rural Relaxation: Fieldfare in the snow in our garden

The snow has reached us and the birds are flocking to our garden to see what we have provided for them. Today the regular Blackbirds were joined by one Thrush and 4 or 5 Fieldfare - the first we have seen in the garden this winter. So I got out my Canon camera ...

In addition there were the usual flocks of Goldfinch and Greenfinch on the most popular hanging feeder, along with some House Sparrows. Wood Pigeon and Collard Dove picked up seed on the ground (before it was covered with snow) and also visited the tray feeder hanging from the largest tree. Starlings fought over a slice of bread on the lawn and the Magpie called to see if there was a tit-bit for it (there was). The Dunnock frequently slipped out of the hedge bottom to take fallen fragments and the Blue Tits visited the Peanuts. None of the other birds dared to visit the fat balls while the Greater Spotted Woodpecker was there. Finally I must not forget the Robin who "owns" our garden and likes the dried mealworms.

P/S/ I somehow forgor the mention the twenty or so Chaffinches that appeared at various times ...


  1. So, what exactly is the reason the birds are moving? How is it connected with the snow? Otherwise the snow is beautiful, I really enjoyed it. :)

  2. Hi David
    Bird movement is very much a factor of where there is food. Most of the species I mention above can be seen in Hertfordshire all the year round - but snow makes it harder to find food in the countryside - so many move into the towns to find food put out for them.

    And they soon learn when and where to go. About 4 houses away from us someone puts out food that the feral pigeons (the kind you find in the big cities). Perhaps twenty turn up regularly at about eight in the morning and sit on the house roof until the food is put out, and fly off when satisfied. My food is obviously not up to standard as I only see one of two feeding in my garden. On the other hand I put out a special fat ball which the greater spotted woodpecker prefers to my neighbour's fat balls!

    However some birds travel enormous distances for food. The Fieldfare spends the summer in parts of Europe where food is hard to find in winter due to the snow and cold. If they stayed there they would starve or freeze to death - so they come to England every winter hoping to avoid the worst of the snow and cold. Normally they find food in the hedgerows - but they too take advantage of artificial feeding stations.

    Other birds - such as the swallows and martins only come here in the summer and return to Africa when it gets too cold for there to be enough midges and other small insects for them to catch.

  3. What is interesting is what we didn't see feeding in the garden.

    Most days we get Great Tits and sometimes Coal Tits and Long-tailed Tits. In the days before the snow a Sparrow Hawk spent a short time in our garden looking for a feathered meal. One one day a feral pigeon was seen feeding with the Wood Pigeons. The local Black-headed Gulls regularly check the gardens of all the houses near us every morning (about breakfast time) to see if anyone has thrown anything out onto the lawns - and they have been known to take food we have put out for the magpie.

    We have yet to attract any of the Red Kite into our garden - but they fly overhead nearly everyday and I suspect someone nearby is feeding them.Other birds - such as swans, geese, herons, etc., often pass overhead on their way to the local reservoirs - but there is nothing to tempt them into our garden.


This is the newsletter for the Genealogy in Hertfordshire Web site. Comments on this blog are moderated and may be transferred to the web site where appropriate. If you have a local or family history query you want answered you must use "Ask Chris" - See box in right hand column. Anonymous comments cannot be answered.