The nature writer Jim Crumley ‘relives memorable encounters with some of our best-loved native species’ in his series of small books, Encounters in the Wild. I have very much enjoyed these books, all gifts. I’d like to relive my weeks’ garden encounter with a fieldfare here. A rather indulgent series of images perhaps (photos, a photo slideshow and three videos) but being in the company of this special winter visitor is something I want to look back on. We have spent many, many hours together. I hope blog visitors enjoy seeing it too, that would be a bonus.
Jim talks about sitting in a space and letting the nature come to you, honestly this is not a review, but I have resonated with this in the garden many times. Standing with a camera beside flowers for pollinators is one such place. It’s brilliant. Sitting by our wildlife pond in the summer, another. As I look out my window now the fieldfare is looking back at me, it almost feels like it’s the opposite. I know its not though. It’s being alert. I also think its got good hearing as it does respond to the noise of my camera shutter when I’ve used the continuous setting. It doesn’t leave though.
An estimate of three and a half metres from my window is the distance of the berry tree, cotoneaster hybridus pendulus. I am sitting on the other side of the window at my desk with camera on tripod to hand. I’ve stopped taking photos and am just enjoying the fieldfare being there now. I’ve got enough images for this memory. I planted the cotoneaster especially for feeding birds its berries and pollinators its blossom, many years ago. However, often the berries get left too long and cold temperatures get them. It has been brilliant to see it fully used for the purpose I intended. I never expected a visitor like this though.
Last night’s low temperature has wasted more berries but as I look out my window, the fieldfare is jumping around the branches and finding the good ones left on the under branches. It has stopped feeding again and is just sitting looking around. It has spent hours at a time on this tree and on more than a few occasions I have just sat watching it, for hours, too. Fieldfares are supposed to be social birds but this one scared off a couple of other fieldfares that tried to feast on these berries. I know it has been the same fieldfare I’ve been watching by its particular behaviour. Photos show a particular identifiable pattern in it’s feathers too.
Selecting the video captures and photos shown below has taken some considerable time given the time spells I sat with my camera. However, throughout this time I have continued to enjoy the company of a fieldfare. How lucky I have been. This has truly been a wonderful garden encounter.
The slideshow below is all of berries picked up by the fieldfare, part and whole swallowed. It should play automatically but if it stops you can cycle through it manually. I wonder just how many berries it has consumed since I spotted it on Sunday morning. It has been leaving the tree only as light goes and it is back again not long after daylight again. It’s still on the tree as I’m about to publish this post.
This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch on February 12th 2021 with this fieldfare overseeing its completion from the berry tree it has become guardian of.