‘Beast of the East’ and Winter Thrushes

The ‘Beast of the East’ took everyone by surprise it seems. Including our winter thrushes! Posts and tweets were popping up as the snow fell deeper and deeper, ‘What is this bird? I’ve never seen it before!’ alongside a photo of a rather disgruntled, speckled visitor.

Snow Idea Who That Bird Is

For inner city dwellers such as myself, we’re acquainted with our more common garden birds, and so anything different from the familiar sticks out like a sore thumb. So when the winter thrushes, who normally spend their winters in the countryside and our berry-laden hedgerows, came to find a safe space in our marginally warmer gardens, it seems everyone knew about it!

Fieldfare
Fieldfare

The first of our winter visitors is the Fieldfare, a winter thrush who visits us to find fruits and berries over the winter, leaving in summer to Scandinavia to breed. Characterised by a stern looking face and grey plumage, alongside the tell-tale speckled belly of the thrush. It’s quite the character, not shy of a fight for a nice slice of apple. They found refuge in our gardens to escape the bitterly cold winds that took hold in their normal habitats. And as quickly as they arrived, they were gone back to their favourite country pastures.

Redwing
Redwing

The second is a more elegant, and more shy visitor, the Redwing. Our smallest visiting thrush, they often flock together alongside Fieldfare, so you’ll often see one with the other. The easy way to spot a Redwing is through the gingery-red patch alongside it’s speckled belly, and a thick pale stripeacross their brow. Again, pushed out of their normal visiting places and into our gardens to find a little warmth and food from generous garden owners. This winter visitor will soon return to Scandinavia after migrating from Europe and Northern Africa.

The snow showed the importance of providing food, shelter and water for our feathered friends, especially in this adverse weather. It was wonderful to see everyone sharing their pictures of the winter thrushes feeding on the food put out. I’m sure it was the difference between them thriving to just surviving. So keep those feeders topped up – you never know who might be dropping by!

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