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A frequent visitor to Dorset in harsh winters driven south looking for food.

Photograph by: 
Peter Orchard

The fieldfare (Turdus pilaris) is a common winter visitor to Dorset but the times of their appearance and the numbers seen can vary each winter. This is because the fieldfare seems to live on the edge, they keep just ahead of any bad weather that will impact their ability to feed. They are primarily a Scandinavian breeding species but in winter form nomadic flocks that are mobile and always willing to move on when the going gets tough. They eat both invertebrates, especially worms, and berries and so can be seen foraging on soft ground in fields and in hedgerows and trees laden with fruits. As the ground freezes and berry stock are depleted they move on.

The weekly reports chart quite clearly show this behavior. Fieldfare are absent from Dorset between week 16 at the end of April and week 42 in mid October. During the period outside this gap they are seen here on most weeks but the number of records is variable. There are distinct peaks occurring later in the winter as harsher conditions further north take hold and flocks then can be in excess of a thousand in extreme cases.

Whilst the distribution map shows a preference for coastal locations I am sure this is due to the increased coverage these sites get and that you can potentially encounter fieldfare anywhere in the county. If the weather is particularly bad here then they will move on in search of food and so coastal reports may well indicate an exodus across the Channel.

To tick off fieldfare on your Dorset list just wait for bad weather and then head out looking for them, you can encounter them nearly anywhere, they even come in to gardens.


Common Name Fieldfare
Scientific Name Turdus pilaris
Species Group Birds Thrushes and Chats
Status Frequent
Interest Level
  • 10 - October
  • 11 - November
  • 12 - December
  • 01 - January
  • 02 - February
  • 03 - March
  • 04 - April
Look for

Groups of large greyish thrushes feeding on berries

Identification Notes
  • A winter visitor from mainland Europe
  • Some years they can come in large numbers and others they can be scarce
  • Gregarious and always seen in flocks, often in the company of redwing
Primary Habitat
Preferred Environment
Look for
Additional Identification Notes
Similar Species

The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Notebook Distribution Map Sites List Some Charts Some Photographs Recent Records Guidance Notes

To see related species click here: 

Birds Thrushes and Chats