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Can you identify a strange thrush visiting our garden?

Sent in by David Martin, Blackmore, Essex

A very seasonal and timely question indeed. Your mystery bird is a fieldfare.

Fieldfares nest in Scandinavia, and around 680,000 of them arrive in Britain each autumn to spend their winter here, in what ought to be milder climate than that they leave behind.

In a 'normal' year, most fieldfares stay on farmland, where they are able to feed on grubs, earthworms and hedgerow berries, and on fallen apples in orchards. This winter, the widespread snow cover has forced far more fieldfares into gardens in search of berries and fruit, and more of us are treated to these less frequent visitors to our gardens.

Although fieldfares are described as social birds, the number of them that hang around any area is dependent on the amount of food available, and single birds and pairs are often seen.

Many birds, including fieldfares, can get very possessive of a feeding station in these harsh weather conditions, and do their utmost to keep all other birds at bay.

We have received reports of single bossy fieldfares, but also of sizeable flocks behaving "normally". The most outstanding report was the 5,000 fieldfares that descended on a Suffolk orchard feasting on the windfall apples.


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