Sunday, 21 June 2015

Fieldfares in June

Sunday 21 June

Not quite what you expect in Britain, a summer Fieldfare, never mind a June sighting.  On our way from Spain to the UK we saw relatively little in the north of Spain, other than our morning visit to the Ebro delta and, in some ways, the same could be said of France.  Yes, we had sightings on White Stork and both Red and Black Kites.  The occasional Wood Pigeon and Magpie reminded one of a journey from a British airport to home and, as expected, once north of the Pyrenees we saw regular sightings of both Crow and Rook along with Jackdaws to add to the corvid list for the year.
But it was our five day stay with friends in Overath, Germany (about 20km east of Cologne) that really produces some excitement.  Having already recorded both kites, as above, along with Common Buzzard I soon added numerous Crows and Rooks plus more Jackdaws in the towns .  Again, evenings especially brought sightings of Common Swift and Barn Swallow never mind a few House Sparrows and the everywhere Common Starling.  Even Collared Doves could be seen and heard with Wood Pigeons whenever we approached any sign of woodland – and this is a very much a wooded area!

Our reason for being here in the first place was to attend the wedding of the elder daughter of a school-day penfriend that we have maintained contact with for well over fifty years.  It turns out that in small village communities in this area it is the custom for the neighbours to decorate the marital home of the newly-weds to be.  So off we went up into the hills and the small village where the neighbours duly turned up carrying lengths of spruce along with white flowers, etc.  Having completed the decorations we all resorted to the garage where drink and hot dogs had been prepared and a most convivial time was had by all.

The happy couple to be outside their newly decorated entrance
But I was taking an interest on the large grassed area in front of the house.  Not just the feeding Blackbird that worked its way back and forth but the Fieldfare.  Trying to get a photograph with my little “Micky Mouse” camera jenny happened to mention that a second bird was also feeding less than ten feet away.  Both birds stayed all the time we were present, probably near to a couple of hours, so obviously plenty of insect/grub life near the surface.  How strange to see the birds feeding just like a pair of Blackbirds when we are so used to seeing Fieldfares feeding, in large flocks, on berries and fallen apples during the winter months.

Record shots of the local, feeding Fieldfares Turdus pilaris



Not content with the Fieldfares and the occasional passing of both Crow and Rook, we also had a Jay fly across the open land and proceed to feed in a close by tree.  One of the neighbours with a good grasp of English and some birding knowledge informed me that the Fieldfares are regular summer breeders but they disappear during the winter.  Yes, they are over in the UK or even thinking about a winter holiday down in Andalucia awaiting my return to the Sierra Loja!  Even more amusing, from his point of view, was the fact that the Jay had such a small name compared to its lengthy German equivalent, the “Eichelh√§her.”

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