Wildlife Wednesday, December – Fight Club


With the frosty weather and exposure of the berried treasure in the hedge/tree branches the blackbirds seem to have multiplied. Berries are being stripped with frightening efficiency. Do they know it is going to be a hard winter?

At the end of the driveway we have a holly hedge. A week ago it was covered with sparking red orbs. Now it is bare, just glossy leaves remain. I see four or five blackbirds fly up each time I open the back door. They’ve moved en masse on to the crab apple tree this week. Happily it is loaded with fruit, but I hope some remain, so that my parents can watch their antics over the Christmas holiday.


Freezing temperatures have also limited the water resources for the birds and our two cascading fountains have become coveted assets. Not just amongst the blackbirds either. Thrushes are well represented too.


Song thrush bathing in the cascade waterfall.

And for the first time we’ve seen fieldfares and redwings in the garden, making use of the water supply. There has been a bit of Fight Club action too.

There have been stand offs:


Glaring competition: Team Black’s champion vs Team Thrush’s fieldfare representative

and some fights:


A fieldfare fights off Team Black’s contender


Bit of infighting on Team Black, watched by a redwing from Team Thrush


Blackbird defending against further thrush incursions


Fieldfare is the winner, taking on all-comers (including a great tit)

Of course, they all get a go … eventually. This goldfinch sensibly waited for things to get quiet again before appoaching for a drink:


Goldfinch taking advantage of some unfrozen water

The other bird whose numbers seem to have swollen in recent weeks are robins.


Robin taking a bath

Either I am being tailed by them when I go on walks with the dog or they are spread in territories every few hundred metres. It is lovely though, because they are largely noticed by their song, warbled high in the tree tops.

We are seeing the same increase in robins at Wimpole too and I have a colleague who has taken to regularly bringing in a bag of mealy worms to feed them. They will come to within about a foot of us now.


Robin greedily snapping up some mealy worms

We are still seeing the little goldcrests around. In fact, although huge baubles are now decorating strategic trees in the pleasure grounds, the goldcrests don’t seem phased by them at all.

Here is a fun shot of a goldcrest gold catching an insect between two blue baubles (I was actually taking a photo of our reflection in the bauble when she arrived):


Goldcrest catching an air-borne insect in the decorated cedar

So this has turned out to be a post about birds. Bees and butterflies are tucked up for winter. However, I have two sightings of unusual mammals to share. Firstly, these cute deer have appeared down the Plant Hunter’s Walk at Wimpole in the last week.


Rustic wooden deer at Wimpole. (There’s over one hundred to find. Guess what the gardeners have been doing over the last month!)

And finally, last weekend we visited the north Norfolk coast. We had a splendid walk along the beach at Holkham. I was talking to a guy raking the sand there (for lug worms?) when a seal appeared. He said that they are very curious about dogs and come in close to check them out. Fortunately Sadie didn’t even notice, otherwise she would have been in there swimming with it.


Seal checking Sadie out at Holkham Bay, Norfolk

It is the first Wednesday of the month so I am joining Tina (of mygardenersays) to report on my local wildlife. Tina’s garden is still full of pollinators, so head there to see beautiful butterflies and metallic green bees …


About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
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19 Responses to Wildlife Wednesday, December – Fight Club

  1. Tina says:

    A terrific post! I wouldn’t mess with the thrushes–they seem to be the tough ones of the ‘hood. Great shots and I’m ever-impressed with your water feature–as are your birds. Love your deer herd–do they eat much in the garden?? And the seal–that’s a first, I believe for WW. Thanks for joining in!

    • Thanks Tina. The fieldfares are pretty big birds, but are generally quite sociable and associate in big flocks. Maybe this one was desperate for some water. I do have muntjac deer problems at home, but luckily the cute wooden ones don’t use much energy and eat very little. Thumbs up for the seal!

  2. Shirley says:

    The birds seem to have worked out the schedule after a fuss and the finch is so smart to stay out of the fray. How fascinating to see the curious seal. Your rustic deer are the best kind for the garden.

  3. Sue says:

    Wow, lots of action happening at your place with all the birds! Love the pic of the seal, how cute. And those wooden deer look fantastic!

    • The rustic deer are a winner with the seasonal visitors who follow the ‘Reindeer Road’ to the Trust farm. In fact, they have decided to run ‘Make your own deer’ classes, because they are so popular.

  4. Chloris says:

    I love this post. Well done on getting so many great shots of your lovely birds.

  5. Eliza Waters says:

    Water certainly helps brings birds in. I am fond of thrushes and robins for their songs. I’m surprised there were interspecies fights. Our birds mostly tolerate other species, but fight amongst themselves. Only bluejays scare off all comers.

    • It is unusual for the large thrush species to come into the garden at all, especially this early in the season when the hedge are still loaded with berries. It might have been because the sub-zero temperatures has frozen most other water sources. The fieldfare has not been back, but the redwing is now a regular.

  6. Lots of great bird shots. I love how you’ve cut your fountains into boulders.

    • Thanks. I am very pleased with the way the rock fountain has worked out. We were originally looked for an old mill stone, but this has worked out better because of the central dip, which they birds use to bathe.

  7. Lovely bird shots. Don’t they make us smile

  8. I love to watch the antics of birds at my feeders but have yet to find the right spot for water. Your cascading fountains would be just the trick. You must enjoy them as much as the birds!

  9. inesephoto says:

    Absolutely loved your post and excellent photography.

  10. Pingback: Caught in a mizzle – A walk on the north Norfolk coast | Frogend dweller's Blog

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  12. Val says:

    Lovely post – I particularly like the blackbird and fieldfare squabble! We get a lot of birds here (in mid-Wales) but haven’t yet had a visit from a fieldfare.

    • Thanks Val. We don’t usually get fieldfares in the actual garden, only occasionally in the boundary hedge, so it has been an exciting year for us. It is interesting to see the thrush, redwing and fieldfares together to compare.

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