Sunday, 12 February 2017

Garden Goldcrest and other visitors

It is not uncommon to hear or see a Goldcrest in or near the garden but it is relatively unusual to see one taking advantage of any of the feeders. A couple of days a ago I noticed a female Goldcrest gleaning food items from the branches below some of the feeders and the following day it was also pecking fragments of fat from the wire mesh of the fat block holder. This morning I noticed it was coming to the fat block and feeding on it fairly regularly so I decided to try and get a few photos.

Goldcrest 12/02/2016

Caught in the act.

In previous years I have occasionally seen the odd one taking food particles that had fallen onto twigs below some of the feeders, also taking small fragments from the base of a sunflower heart feeder and occasionally pecking at the fat blocks but it doesn't happen every winter.

The blunt and rounded tail shape shows this bird is an adult. There doesn't appear to be any orange in the crown so we can be reasonably sure it is a female. Males can keep their orange crown feathers concealed under yellow feathers but you usually get a glimpse of it every now and again, especially if they get a bit agitated. 

It must have found a really good bit up there.
 I make my own fat blocks which contain a very high proportion of dried mealworms and birds certainly seem to know if a fat block is giving them a good nutritional return for their effort. In the past I have experimented when feeding adult Starlings in the early part of the breeding season and the blocks with the higher proportion of mealworms were preferred and attracted more birds despite the fat blocks with the lower mealworm content being almost identical in appearance. It may be trial and error at first but whatever the mechanism they certainly seemed to know which had the better nutritional content.

The Goldcrest came to the fat block about every 20 minutes and only stayed for about a minute on each visit so I ended up taking quite a few photos of some of the other visitors. And, as I have commented on before, there wasn't a single House Sparrow amongst them.

Adult male Starling.
This male is just about in full breeding condition now that its bill has completed the change from being black to the full breeding colours of blue and yellow. The fine and limited spotting to the long throat feathers and flanks shows this bird is an adult (2CY+). 

Male Pied Wagtail.
Two Pied Wagtails regularly come to feed on scraps below the feeders, this male and a very grey backed female that looks similar to some White Wagtails 

Blue Tit
Tits had a fairly poor breeding season last year and very few have been coming to the feeders this winter

Coal Tit
Like Blue and Great Tits there have been fewer Coal Tits coming to the feeders this winter.

This adult female Chaffinch has badly encrusted legs and feet (either mange or avian papillomavirus) and you can just see part of the left foot. It only uses one leg and holds the other up under the feathers but in all other respects it seems to be quite healthy.

This first-year female has escaped infection, so far at least.
Adult male Blackbird
There have been a lot of Blackbirds around this winter with more visiting the garden than I have ever seen before. It is not uncommon for there to be 10 in the garden at one time and many more must visit over the course of a day.

Female Blackbird

There seemed to be a few more Goldfinches around today with up to 25 in the garden at any one time.

Adult male Siskin and what a stunner.

There was plenty of argy-bargy at the feeders.
A nice selection of birds that brightened up what was a rather grey, cold and windy day.


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