Sadly, yesterday I found this dead Goldcrest in the garden. These, our tiniest birds are coming to gardens more now we’re getting to winter. Over half a million pairs breed here but the numbers go up to 3-5 million with an influx of migrants fleeing even bleaker weather in Scandinavia- one has been found that was ringed as far away as Russia. They make landfall on the east coast, feed up and rest, and then spread out over the country. . In the past, people simply didn’t believe such a tiny bird (about 5-6 grams, the weight of a ten pence piece) could travel independently across the North Sea so it was called the ‘Woodcock Pilot’, as it was thought to hitch a ride in the feathers of
migrating Woodcock! It felt even lighter than I imagined- the weight of eggs laid by a female in one brood outweighs the normal weight of its body. I also hadn’t realise how bright orange the inside of its beak is (it has faded a little since it died but you can still see it in the photo). Its thin beak is ideal for picking small insects out of pine-needles and crevices. Their sweet song is so high-pitched many older people can’t register the sound. They do have high mortality rates, like most small birds, and this one looked as though it has a disease, but keep looking- they are about. Sian has just seen one in her garden. Conditions: A cooler, cloudy day, with a little breeze and rain moving in in the afternoon. Temperature: Max 8- Min 7C.