Monday, 28 January 2013

Viburnum opulus attracts a special winter visitor to the garden – right on cue for ‘Birdwatch’!

It was the RSPB ‘Big Garden Birdwatch’ this weekend and I thought that the contrary birds would, as in previous years, lie low and only visit in small numbers, frustrating the people who were on their annual bird monitoring mission! 

Well, they did this as I predicted, but to compensate we did have a fantastic treat a first time sighting - a new visitor to our garden!

It was early on Saturday morning and the local fox had paid us a visit and gave a bark prompting an early garden viewing. At first, without the binoculars, I thought these birds were pigeons.  However, on closer inspection they were definitely not, as they had a stunning yellow beak and a speckled chest, some of the features of a thrush, a bird that unfortunately eludes us. These birds, four in total, were taking it in turns to feast on the Viburnum opulus berries. (I am now so glad that I was lazy and didn’t remove them earlier to make a jelly). These beautiful birds, still to be identified, were very nervous and moved off at the slightest sound. Out came the bird books and even after much deliberating we still didn’t have a definite identification, but it was a bird clearly form the Thrush family. Thank goodness for Internet images as a positive match was made. The Fieldfare family had paid us a visit on this important day of bird watching! Apparently, according to the RSPB, they will visit gardens if snow covers the countryside. Living in urban Birmingham, we were lucky to catch this winter visitor! Oh! and thank you Mr Fox for your little bark to alert us to looking out on Saturday morning! 

The Fieldfare in our Viburnum, well disguised with its beautiful plumage.

Viburnum berries the day before the visit, looking like snowy meringue buns!

Click to find out more about the Fieldfare

Click here to find a list of plants for attracting birds to your garden.

The Btitish Trust for Ornithology - Birds and Garden Berries Study begins on Sunday 30th September 2013 and survey packs are being sent out just ahead of this. If you would like to take part in the study or find out more about the project then please email them here.

Author Melanie Smith Gardenplan Design

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