Sunday, 19 June 2011

The Siskin.

Female Siskin. David Cookson.

A visit to Bowland in the Marshaw/Tower Lodge area on Thursday last produced excellent if brief views of Crossbills and better views of Lesser Redpolls later, both species of which are not very easy birds to find in our area and are always a delight when I do. But another bird which is equally difficult to connect with is the Siskin, a bird primarily of conifer forests/plantations of the north and west.

Male Siskin. Phil Slade.

The Siskins is more widespread during the winter months in the UK as it is joined by birds from continental Europe in large but varying numbers and distribution from year to year, the Siskin then becomes a more commonly know bird particularly as one which visits garden feeders like the one in the photograph above.

Breeding Siskins typically start nesting in early April, in Mitchells time he published just one breeding record when six pairs summered and raised young in the Lancaster area in 1836 after several hundred had wintered here. In the early 1990's a figure of up to 360,000 pairs of Siskin would have been in the record books, but the picture is now much reversed and there has been a decline of up to 40% in England and Scotland. In our own area of North Lancashire the bird is a scarce but resident breeder in suitable conifer stands in S.E. Cumbria and Bowland, but void of doing a search through my records I don't recall the last time I saw a Siskin but certainly in excess of twelve months ago at the latter location.

Juvenile Siskin. Phil Slade.

There are two interesting ringing recoveries made on the continent involving a bird ringed in the UK in March 1989 and controlled later that year in Belgium in October, another bird ringed in April 1995 was found dead in Norway in June 1998.

It would have been good to have been able to add the Siskin to my records of Crossbill and Lesser Redpoll last Thursday in the Trough of Bowland and I'm looking forward to finding my next, but it certainly won't be tomorrow and I'm not holding my breath for Tuesday either.

Thanks to DC and PS for the photographs....much appreciated.


Pete Marsh said...

The scarcity in the areas of Bowland you cover contrasts sharply with areas to the north = upper Hindburndale in particular. I have ringed over 50 this last week at the Thrushgill feeding station, including many locally-born juveniles. Funnily enough a conversation at the Common Crane site this evening (near Long Preston) included how 'common they were in the Clitheroe area'. Maybe they prefer plantations as opposed to the more scattered spread out mature trees along the trough road

Pete Woodruff said...

Interesting points here Pete, and I appreciate the Siskin is of course to be found in our area, the post never claimed otherwise.

Overall the comments I made are pretty accurate and despite my covering much more than the area you mention - the Trough Road in Bowland - the Siskin is a 'scarce' species in our area and certainly can't be found in several suitable areas where it could be, hence my book is quite scarce for records of the Siskin.

Thanks once again for your interest in Birds2blog Pete.

Warren Baker said...

Bring on the winter, bring on the Siskins :-)