The last two weeks or so has seen Strathbungo’s greatest annual wildlife spectacle. Hundreds of birds, most obviously fieldfare from Scandinavia, have come in to feast on bungo’s berries. The spectacle seems to be later than in previous years and to have gone on longer. This is probably a consequence perhaps of this year’s excellent berry crop. I saw hundreds of fieldfare up in Kintail in October but with so much food they have been able to idle their way south and will stay as long as the food source lasts.
The fieldfare are the large thrushes, with large patches of grey, which you can see periodically circling in large flocks over Strathbungo.
If you watch them they settle for a time on the tallest trees – like the willow in our back garden where I have counted well over a hundred – and then descend onto the smaller trees with berries. Our willow has been bare one moment, mobbed the next. It seems the largest trees offer the fieldfare the best vantage points from where they can look at for predators from domestic cats to sparrowhawks.
Today I marvelled at how they have clung to the highest branches in the wind and even managed to preen themselves between the gusts.
The fieldfare stripped the rowan in our back garden a week ago but had shown no interest in the rowan in the house opposite our front door (top photo). Then yesterday a few descended on that tree and today I have seen up to 20 starting from the topmost branches, as you can see from the photo, and working down. Why?
The fieldfare are not the only incomers. A couple of weeks ago we saw bullfinch, then chaffinch. The first has in my experience always been a rare visitor while the latter seems to have more or less disappeared from Strathbungo over the last 20 years (we used to see lots when we first moved here). Both are likely to have come into Glasgow from the surrounding countryside. You may have also noticed lots more blackbirds than usual – I have seen six at one time in our back garden – and some redwing, more migrants from Scandinavia. Waxwing, a much rarer migrant, have been reported from the east end of Glasgow – so keep your eyes peeled!
All these birds, which to me is part of what makes Strathbungo a great place to live, only come here because there is food for them. The small berry bearing trees that residents have planted make a real difference. I was on the pedestrian bridge over the railway the other day and looking along the railway could not spot a single rowan. Imagine what a wildlife resource that could be if Network Rail managed its land with half a thought to wildlife.
There are various greening initiatives going on in Strathbungo at present. Perhaps we could use the blog to share ideas?
The fieldfare show that planting trees and the tree species planted make a real difference.