Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wintering thrushes

Fieldfare - Turdus pilaris

Tuesday, drizzling/raining on and off all day.
Range 5-11 degrees C, winds wsw over 18 kt in late afternoon.
House sparrows, blackbirds, hooded crows, laughing dove coos, chaffinch (on cypress top by valley road), jackdaws, feral pigeons, white spectacled bulbul, graceful warblers.
Stream flowing well late afternoon, fed mainly by the cross forest stream which brings run off from roads higher up the hill

Today, Wednesday range 5-11 degrees C,

Heard from the house, house sparrows very active and vocal, white spectacled bulbul, feral pigeons on buildings round about.
~4.45 p.m. 7.8 degrees C and falling. Humidity 92% and rising, wind WSW 4.3.
Black redstart calls but none seen. Again about dusk several small flocks of white wagtails flying over from north to south to evening roost, 'chipping' as they flew. A small number of prob linnets flew over, a more pleasant twittering. Syrian woodpeckers and graceful warblers heard.
Blackbird in song along valley road. Hooded crows about.

Most interesting sighting of the day was a number of thrush sized birds leaving eucalyptus tree and the field next to it from edge of eucalyptus grove/east field. Up to 20 individuals heading towards orchard and east valley, not in one mass flock but quietly in small groups at a time, with a lazy intermittent flapping style. Much too large for finches, too greyish/brownish and thrush like for starlings and clearly all of a type. I received a report last night of a fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)seen across town and this is a strong possibility. These birds appear in centre or north of the country in unpredictable years - sometimes none seen at all, sometimes in good numbers (termed an eruption). Too bad I didn't get a good sighting, light was poor and all birds seen in flight, but given Gerda's sighting at the botanical gardens I think we have very good reason to think this flock too is part of the eruption. To my knowledge no other birds of this size and general appearance are likely to appear in such flocks at this time. Husband also reported hearing a grating call which is another fieldfare trademark, though I missed this myself.

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