Saturday, 23 January 2010

A Couple of Beauties.

Brian Rafferty has achieved this superb image of the Goldcrest, not the easiest of birds to get a good picture of as it has a very energetic behaviour as it flits about the branches in search of food.

A quiet amazing creature, it is the smallest bird in the UK and indeed the whole of Europe and weighs just six and a half grams as an adult, they are quite capable of maintaining their population despite cold winters....but as cold as this one has recently been in the UK is doubtful and remains to be seen to what extent. You wouldn't take such a tiny bird to be one which can migrate and although UK birds are only regarded as 'wanderer's' ringing recoveries have shown the species to undertake regular movements from countries around the Baltic and the North Sea into Britain for the winter. One such truly amazing individual reached here from Russia and several from Poland have also been recorded, a fact which really does need to be pondered over in order to get to grips with such an achievement in terms of human thinking.  Another amazing fact about the Goldcrest is that the female regularly starts a second clutch of eggs before the first brood of nestlings have fledged, as a result of such a breeding effort twenty chicks in a season are not unknown and is essential for the survival of the population given the losses during winter weather like the recent UK experience.


Another of BR's images is this one of the Jay, not a very popular bird amongst some as they are prone to taking eggs and young from the nests of other birds during the breeding season in order to feed their own young, they will also take carrion and road casualties particularly when the road runs through woodland.

Traits of the 'crow' family as a whole are an incredible ability to learn and have a great memory and the Jay is no exception to this family trait and is one of the reasons for their success. The Jay is a well known hoarder of acorns and a single bird - believe it or not - can hoard as many as 2,000 lots of which can be retrieved when food becomes scarce, any that are missed in the retrieval strategy helps to disperse the acorns to new areas.

Thanks to BR for helping me to 'fill the gap' once again, please visit his website which you can link from the sidebar on the left.


Warren Baker said...

yep! a couple of beauties Pete! I have still got one or two Goldcrests surviving on my patch.

Anonymous said...

One or two comments on Goldcrest, Pete. Quite a few north Brit-born ones do move, especially in their first year - the last such Heysham ringing recovery (autumn-ringed)was at Oban.

Secondly, they can move through pretty quickly. Presumed continental bird ringed at Heysham in mid-October was caught on Anglesey the next morning, after an overnight migration assisted by a continuation of the same NE wind which drifted it to Heysham

Some inexplicable ones as well e.g. catching a Danish-ringed bird at Red Nab bushes in early May - way after the normal spring passage.

Pete Woodruff said...

Great to hear of the 'survivor's' on your patch and many thanks for the comment and info Warren.

It is hard to believe such a tiny creature can make a movement of such distance yet some can in fact survive two journey's as several Goldcrests ringed in the UK in winter have been found back 'home' in Fennoscandia, the Red Nab bird is interesting.

Thanks for comment's 'anonymous'.

Brian Rafferty said...

Pete. Glad I could help you to fill the gap until your next trip. Thanks for your very interesting account full of interesting facts about the goldcrest and jay.
Hopefully the weather may be kinder to us this week,I am in need of excercise and fresh air !!!

Pete Woodruff said...

Can't wait to get up Clougha/Birk Bank hopefully sometime this week Brian but with much apprehension, and if I'm honest with myself don't expect to find any Stonechats up there for the first time in more than 15 years.

Thanks for comment's....and pic's.