In the garden this week have been Greenfinches and a single Treecreeper, the latter species becoming something of a local rarity in recent years, and then close by this morning 2 Great-spotted Woodpeckers, each drumming out their territories. This fine Sunday morning and the final day of school half-term I decided against going birding when all the world and his many dogs would almost certainly be where I wished to explore; instead I decided to try a spot of netting for more Goldfinches and anything else that came along – not much did.
In contrast to last winter, for months now there’s been an obvious lack of some finches in this part of the North West, with just average numbers of Chaffinch and virtually no Siskins or Bramblings. Last year Will and I caught 150+ Siskin and 22 Bramblings in January/February in his garden and at another site near Lancaster. Before today the ringing group’s score sheet read just 2 Brambling and 0 Siskin; until today that is when the Goldfinches brought a few Siskins “pinging” towards the garden Niger feeders, and so fifty days into the New Year I caught the ringing group’s first Siskin of 2012. The Goldfinch total was topped up by 3 more males and a single female.
The morning was warm and sunny and from the tops of the sycamore came the fluty calls of Starlings, noises reminiscent of the Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus, one of the Old World oriole family, whose kinfolk include the Starling. The Golden Oriole is a rare bird in the UK but a species I became familiar with during 5 visits to India, where many European Golden Orioles spend the winter. It’s also a species I look forward to meeting each year in Menorca, where a walk along quiet paths will unearth a few pairs. Unlike our everyday Starling, the Golden Orioles I see are usually very secretive, hiding out in the tree canopy where the males stay out of sight and the females use their yellow and green colouring to blend in, all in all making the bird almost impossible to photograph. The photograph below is from Bangalore, by Nanda Ramesh. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Nanda_ramesh
All was complete this morning when Starlings came down to feed on last night’s left overs of curry and naan bread, allowing me to catch 5 birds; pity they weren’t the yellow variety of oriole, but our own much maligned Starling is actually a very smart looking creature if a tad bit common for most folk’s liking.