Saturday, 15 October 2016

Bird of the week - Goldcrest

This is Europe's smallest bird and is not easy to photograph.  If you are not too old and your hearing is still OK you may well hear it before seeing it.  Goldcrests eat tiny insects and are mainly found in coniferous woodland.  They are not especially shy but are usually found right in the middle of a bush or tree rather than posing in good light on the edge.

I think all the photos above are of females which have a yellow crest.  The males have orange in the crest but were being a bit less co-operative.  This was the best I could do.

Despite weighing only 5g, large numbers of goldcrests migrate to the British Isles from Scandinavia and Northern Europe each autumn.  Goldcrest numbers peak in October as winter visitors supplement the resident population and are briefly more visible.  These are the latest BTO BirdTrack data.

The UK population is fairly stable but can plummet after a severe winter.

The BTO BirdAtlas shows that goldcrests are particularly fond of Ireland.

The goldcrest is Regulus regulus, regulus being a prince.  Thomas Bewick knew it as the golden-crested wren.  This is his illustration from A History of British Birds (1797).  Not his finest effort.

You can watch a BTO video on goldcrest and firecrest here.  Listen the goldcrest's song here.  And listen to Chris Watson's BBC Radio 4 Tweet of the Day on goldcrest here.

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