A couple of days ago I wrote a short post on Internet vs books, and how people of my generation tend towards the old fashioned written word. However, yesterday I found myself in a situation where the Internet became an invaluable tool.

The first snow fall of the winter and continued freezing temperatures had meant that the bird feeder was enjoying it’s busiest period of the year so far. That’s just about the only good thing about this kind of weather, you get lots of visitors to the garden, and if you’re lucky some of these are not ‘regulars’.

One time it was a moorhen, then another time a pair of woodcock. Yesterday I noticed another bird that I had never seen before.

Looking in my only 2 bird books proved inconclusive. Nothing quite seemed to fit, either the description seemed wrong or the picture, or both. In the end I turned to the Internet.

After a  little bit of ‘surfing’, I had the answer. My new visitor was a Fieldfare. Even those these birds are gregarious and most commonly found in flocks, it seems it is possible to see just one, as I did.

He may well be gregarious with his own kind, but I can tell you my new visitor was not friends with anyone else in my garden, and he jealously and aggressively guarded his windfall apples against all comers.

He stayed with us all morning and well into the afternoon. Towards teatime I decided to go out and top-up the feeder before it got dark, this would also give everyone a chance of a decent supper.

My new friend was there and fluttered into a nearby tree as I approached, he then flew into next doors field. In so doing he answered another question that has been puzzling us on and off for many years.

Sometimes when we go for a walk up the lane, particularly in Autumn, we disturb groups of birds in the adjoining fields. Most we recognise, but one group’s identity has so far eluded us.

They rise out of the stubble in a huge flock and are away in an instant. Until now we had no idea what they were, but now I know. Having seen my new friend fly off this afternoon I can say they are unmistakably Fieldfares.

So there we are, horses for courses. Books might be my natural port of call, but sometimes only the Internet will do. However did we manage without it?