While we hunker down, like anyone who can, as yet another storm makes it’s way across Britain, accompanied by torrential rain, I can catch up with two lovely birds we saw the other day at the Eskrigg Reserve near Lockerbie. Where you see Siskins, it is always keeping a close eye open for Lesser Redpoll, their close cousin. Siskins used to be confined to Welsh and Scottish forests but are increasing their range dramatically and can often be seen on garden feeders in winter. Lesser Redpoll declined dramatically by the 1970’s but there is some evidence of an increase due to new forestry plantations and, once again, garden feeders. In colder years we get both in winter on our garden feeders but, like many other winter-migrating birds, these milder winters mean less show up outside their summer range as more of their food supplies survive in
their summer habitat in milder years. Conditions: Storms rage. Temperature: Max 10 Min 5C.
Adult male Siskin
Adult male Siskin
Siskins are back on our feeders. These beautiful and agile finches, about the size of a Blue Tit, only appear here and on most garden bird-feeders after New Year, boosted by winter migrants, but they are a joy to watch. Feeding naturally on Alder and Conifer (especially Sitka Spruce) seeds, they come into gardens when seeds are scarce and especially on wet days, when cones close up, which is therefore the best time to see them in your garden. Conditions: Milder and lighter cloud. Temperature: Max 6 Min 2C.
Siskins are beginning to appear in our garden again. Sian had some some weeks ago but she does live nearer conifers than we do. These beautiful small finches, with very forked tails, are pretty distinctive, with their yellow-green colouring. The males are brighter, with lovely dark crowns and bibs while the juveniles are more streaky and pale. The population of Siskins grew with the increase in pine plantations in the UK. They venture into gardens more in the New Year, so keep your eyes peeled. Conditions: This unbelievably mild spell continues with the forecast predicting that it is 12c during the day, today but 14c in the night!
Male Siskin, with black bib and cap
Siskin keeping a bigger Great Tit at bay