Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Woody and the Goldcrests

Walking back from my lunchtime forage along the nearby cycle track today, two tiny birds appeared right beside me in the leafless hawthorn hedge. I stopped very still and listened and watched - they were about the size of a wren, though with a gentler song, completely new to me. I hurried back to work to see if I could identify them. At first I thought they were siskins and mentioned them to someone I work with who is a fellow bird lover - she told me straight away that they were goldcrests. I had only ever seen goldfinches before and I'm not sure I had even heard of goldcrests . These tiny little songbirds are quite rare and apparently the UK's smallest bird, along with the flamecrest which is very similar. Somehow they seemed to be the highlight of an otherwise ordinary working day.
Also today, our old friend Woody made a reappearance at the bird feeder hanging from the old apple tree in the neighbouring garden (the window of my office faces it). Last winter the Great Spotted Woodpecker delighted myself and my colleagues as we caught glimpses of it pecking the bark of the tree. Although brightly coloured, it only stays for a matter of seconds before taking off into the nearby copse. No sightings at all during the summer - it was good to see this illusive bird back.

Observing garden birds is one of the joys of winter, something I never tire of - here is a strange little poem called The Woodpecker:
I once a King and chief
Now am the tree bark's thief
Ever 'twixt trunk and leaf
Chasing the prey
William Morris (1891)