Whether in huge flocks of 100-plus last week in Lincolnshire, or in small ‘Charms’ of half a dozen on our garden feeders all week, we are getting plenty of viewings of the beautiful Goldfinch. There are still juveniles in immature plumage, which show the beginning of the black and white ladder-back and the gold wing-flash but lack the red, black and white head markings. Goldfinches were often used as caged birds, due to their beauty and liquid song, and were heavily persecuted up until the 1930’s, so their apparent increase over the last few years may be deceptive- they are still recovering previous levels and are also being drawn more into gardens as farmland and scrub produces less of the seeds they rely on. In the wild they need thistle, ragwort, groundsel and dandelion seed but better food mixes for garden feeders,
including sunflower and fat, have helped the population levels and certainly the visibility of this small, native finch. Numbers rise over summer months but ringing suggests many migrate south, even into Continental Europe over winter. Conditions: A balmy spell of autumn weather. Temperature: Max 19 Min 13 C.