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March 13th, 2012


Goldcrests after sixty five years

I think in the last couple of years there have been moments when I have been aware of Goldcrests. A friend tells me he has them visiting his garden regularly, its just they are never there when I am there. On a birding trip a small bird silhouettes on branches against the setting sun and one of my companions identifies it from song as a goldcrest so I've seen one but not seen one.
On holiday in France a small bird again silhouettes before diving into a bush not to be seen again and from its size didn't leave many options: certainly not a wren which I would recognise so again I have seen and not seen.

Then after my birthday in early December last year, a small bird perches on top of a bush outside our front room window. Again limited choice of possibilities for something that size; again it could not be a wren, rather than having the typical perked up tail of a wren this one had its tail between its legs but no gold crest: the head was more or less the same olive green as the rest of it....so now I have seen a gold crest but I have not seen a "gold" crest this was the juvenile version without the crest.

On Saturday visiting Potteric Carr (Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Doncaster) we were trekking alongside the boundary of the reserve, and I looked up into the hedge to see a small bird with a shining yellow stripe down the middle of its head.....at last.

On Sunday I was quite busy.

On Monday I did my local walk as I have done dozens of times and was passing a farm on the last leg, and heard a Chaffinch singing and retraced my steps to see if I could spot it. But no such luck. What I did see was a small bird with a yellow stripe down the middle of its head flitting around the branches of an overgrown Christmas tree and I stood fascinated as for a rather longer period than on Saturday I enjoyed watching a Goldcrest.

Today(Tuesday) local walk again the other way round and nearing the close I fall into conversation with a local who had caught a stray dog that nearly died in front of a car and had also been seen chasing sheep. As we talked two of her neighbours met over the garden hedge (about six feet from us) and stood talking quietly when I was distracted by a small bird in the branches of a conifer that grew up through the hedge, The shape was instantly unmistakeable though the light did not enable me to see colour,and then we stood in amazement as not one, not two but three birds joined in the dance.

Where have they been all my life upto now?
Just staggered by the enormity of the now three spots in four days.