Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)

Earlier this year, on the 10th January, we were having coffee in a favourite cafe in Swanage over looking the beach. There was a bitter east wind and it had been snowing, not really the day for doing much else other than staying in doors and drink coffee.

As we looked out to sea we saw several birds flying in, followed by more, then even more. I estimate that they were coming in at around twenty a minute and as we were there an hour or so we probably saw over 1000 birds come in and that was just where we were sat.

The vast majority of these birds were Fieldfare and Redwing but there were also a good number of pipits too. They seemed to be coming from the South East so presumably bad weather in northern France had driven them westwards.

After that Purbeck was full of these birds and they turned up regularly in our garden and eating us out of apples! With the recent cold weather and snow I would have expected to see a lot around again now but so far there seem to be very few.

Large flocks of Redwing and Fieldfare are not uncommon here in winter. Last year there were over 1,000 near Rushton Farm at East Stoke. Fieldfare and Redwing keep each other company and you rarely see one without the other close by.

They breed in the north, particularly Scandinavia, but when winter comes they head south in enormous numbers but it was wonderful to watch them come pouring in off the sea after what must have been an epic journey. How did they know that when they flew off over the coast in France out to sea they would find land? What confidence ...

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