Sunday, 17 July 2011

The Goldfinch.

Goldfinch. David Cookson

The Goldfinch is a widespread species in Britain, absent only from the highlands and islands of Scotland. The bird appears to have been able to adapt to the changes brought about by agricultural intensification through the 1970' and 80's which led to a reduction of thistle and other weed seeds, but following a struggle for a while it seems to have sought to move into gardens with bird tables and feeding stations.

Earlier in its history the Goldfinch has suffered at the hands of 'bird-catchers' who netted and limed them, their downfall was that they were amongst the most attractive and therefore most popular of cage birds being of such beauty in their plumage. By the end of the 19th century Mitchell claimed they were almost extinct, and by the mid 20th century Oakes claimed the species to be 'by no means common' and went on to state the estimate for the County of Lancashire stood at a mere 10 pairs in 1946. Thankfully the Bird Protection Act of 1954 meant that it was prohibited to be in possession of a wild-caught finch and soon after this the Goldfinch was gathering momentum in numbers and by the 1970's had become a common and widespread species in Lancashire. 

In our recording area of North Lancashire September/October is the best time to see the Goldfinch sometimes in impressive numbers, for example my records at Conder Green show up to 400 seen on 22 September 2008, up to 300 seen on 14/24 September 2009, and up to 220 on 21 September 2010, with a similar number again on 2 October. The Goldfinch is hardly affected by harsh winters and these birds at Conder Green were possibly on their way south to the Mediterranean region where up to 80% of the population winter. 

When there are so many bird species in decline, it is always a pleasure to hear the sound of the cheerful notes of the beautiful Goldfinch which can be enjoyed much more frequently than any other of our 'finches'.

Clement. Courtesy of BTO.

There are two Cuckoos now in Africa, they are in the middle of the Sahara Desert the crossing of which is one of the major sources of mortality for many migrant birds. Of the five birds tagged Lyster is the only Cuckoo left in Britain and remains in Norfolk, but an update on all five birds is/was expected sometime today. Be prepared to be amazed and take a look at whats happening on the 'Cuckoo Scene' including news on the Two in Africa 


Warren Baker said...

I wonder what advantage is to be had (if any) by leaving early for Africa Pete ?

Lyster is still chasing the Ladies in norfolk, do females Migrate later ? -so many questions we still have to find the answer too :-)

Pete Woodruff said...

A couple of interesting points there Warren....any advantages for 'leaving early' females 'leave later'....Mmmmm!