Friday, March 1, 2019

Bits And Bobs

The Wednesday trip to Oakenclough wasn't very productive despite our enthusiasm for an early start. I’d met Andy at 0700 to a cold but bright morning of 5°C. 

Although there was an early movement of small finches overhead, and from their quiet “jizz”, Siskins and not Redpolls, we succeeded in catching just two. The first two Siskins of spring 2019 proved to be a first winter/second calendar year male and a fine adult female, both caught at the same time. It’s notable that where two Siskins are caught together they are often of the opposite sex, as if pairs are established and maintained before they reach us 

The Eurasian Siskin, Carduelis spinus, is a member of Fringillidae, the true finches. Although what is a fringillid and how these birds are related to each other has been the source of debate, most true finches are seed-eating passerines that are found in the Northern hemisphere. The Eurasian Siskin is small – smaller, and in the male at least, brighter and more delicate than the similarly green but more bulky European Greenfinch, Carduelis chloris



Siskins breed in coniferous woodlands and winter in riverside birches and alders as well as gardens. They are seed-eating birds, especially consuming seeds from conifers, alders and birch, as well as some insects. Siskins will also eat berries and other fruits, especially in winter. It is fairly recent years that Siskins found a liking for peanuts and the seed of Niger. The latter is the seed that we use to attract Siskins to our feeding station here at Oakenclough. 

Otherwise our meagre catch revolved around discussing how to set the world to rights and watching out for signs of spring. A local couple stopped and related their recent sighting of a pair of Osprey over the nearby reservoir and their surprise that an orange-eyed owl with “sticky-up ears” never flinched when they walked within yards of its hawthorn hideaway. 

As the clock ticked slowly by our ringing failed to reach such levels of excitement with just a few Goldcrests and Coal Tits to add to the two Siskins. 


We discovered that as predicted, Blue Tit AKC5385 caught here on 14th February here had been ringed not far away at Middleton, Morecambe Bay on October 18th 2018. It’s but a hop, skip and jump of 10 miles up here to the edge of the Pennines, but interesting that the Blue Tit was ringed during what is a busy migration period for many species. 

Back to the day where a flap-glide Sparrowhaw, 2 mid-morning Buzzards and a procession of Oystercatchers, Curlews and Lapwings heading for the hills gave a degree of satisfaction that spring had indeed sprung. 

Back home we recently learned that our near neighbours with their loathsome bird-hunting cat are soon to leave for killing fields anew. Good riddance. With a watchful eye I set an afternoon net in our garden where Goldfinches rule when left alone. 


During 2018 the BTO Garden Birdwatch reported twice as many Goldfinches in gardens as normal, with some gardens having had flocks of up to 20 birds at any one time. During September 2018, Goldfinches were reported in 61 per cent of the weekly submissions sent in by 15,000 Garden Birdwatch volunteers who monitor their gardens, compared with a 20-year average of 30 per cent. 

Our own garden has daily numbers of between 2 and 20 Goldfinches and where the number of Goldfinches is often in direct proportion to the number of Niger feeders scattered around suitable cat-proof points from which to hang feeders. 


Wintering Goldfinches move around in search of food. Goldfinches are a partial migrant and while many stay in the UK some migrate to France and Spain, hence the chance of one of “my” Goldfinches being found many miles south of here or vice-versa and the reason to continue this legitimate pursuit. 


A reader enquired about the header photo of the bunting with no name.  It's a Little Bunting caught at Rawcliffe Moss almost 6 years ago on 13th March 2013. It stayed around until at least 30th April when it was recaptured for the fourth time.


Margaret Adamson said...

We you may not have had great numbers but it is always lovely to see Siskins. They ony come very seldom to my garden however everyday i have a wonderful charm of Goldfinch

David Gascoigne said...

Good morning Phil: I can well understand your emphatic "Good riddance" to the neighbours with the murderous cat. Let us hope that nothing ill befalls them in their new house like burst water pipes, or a malfunctioning furnace, or rain dripping behind the valance! I hope that your new neighbours are not of similar mindset and either have no cat or keep it inside if they do. The villains who are leaving will unfortunately inflict feline carnage on others. Bastards!

Rhodesia said...

We get the rare Siskins in our garden though I see them in flocks not far from our house while out walking. They never hang around long enough for me to take photos though, We used to have masses of Gold and Greenfinches at our feeder over winter, almost nothing over the last two years. I saw one single Goldfinch today, the first one this winter and not a single Greenfinch to date!
Have a good weekend Diane

italiafinlandia said...

In Finland they have seen the first skylarks, returning after the winter.
Have a nice birding weekend!

eileeninmd said...

Hello, Phil

Lovely variety of birds. The Goldcrest is a cutie, I have always loved the Goldfinch seen there. I am glad your bird-killing cat is moving away, yay!
Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

Adam Jones said...

Siskin has been a bit of a bogey bird for me in the last 12 months. I'm still trying to track one down. I need to get myself into more suitable habitat.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

Your Goldfinch is so colorful and beautiful! We usually see a lot of the small yellow Goldfinches here but not yet this year. And good riddance to the cat that kills birds! Usually cats that are fed well don't bother. Happy weekend!

Hootin' Anni said...

We have a couple of feral cats in our yard, often. Bud keeps an air gun nearby. Especially when we see them stalking our bird feeding stations. I have to agree..."good riddence".

I find that quite interesting that one of each sex is usually together in the traps when out ringing/banding.

I want to send along my thanks for linking in & sharing your post with us birders at I'd Rather B Birdin this week!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

The goldcrest is a sweet little featherball... I don’t remember seeing it before (but I’m getting older by the minute and my memory is unreliable). I do remember your beautiful goldfinch and how envious I am of grandmother taught me that comparisons are odious, but it is hard not to realize that our all-yellow ones, though beautiful are certainly no match fir their British cousins.

betty-NZ said...

Love your little yellow birds. I see the occasional English goldfinch around the dairy farm.

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Pretty little birds and as usual your photos are gorgeous

Lowcarb team member said...

So nice to see the birds.
The goldfinch is beautiful, lovely colouring.
The goldcrest too, a lovely splash of yellow.
The siskins are so sweet.

Happy March Days … hope Storm Freya is not affecting you.

All the best Jan

Tanza Erlambang said...

Lovely coloring of goldfinch.
have a great day

Angie said...

Pine siskins are mobbing my Nyjer seed every day, but that is a recent development - I believe they were focused on pine cones up 'til now … your goldfinches are so colorful compared to ours … And I would like to know what you came up with, while "setting the world to rights"!!!!

Anu said...

Hello Phil. The Goldcrest is realy tiny and beautiful bird. The bird-hunting cats are not nice...

Kelleyn Rothaermel said...

HOw do you get them to land on your hands! That is amazing! Have a wonderful weekend.

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