With winter lingering at our backs we head to Kentish woodland on the hunt for Britain’s not-quite smallest fowl.
The firecrest could weigh a squeeze greater than its commoner cousin, the goldcrest, however at simply over 5g you’re someplace within the area of a 20p piece. Or, for those who’ve forgotten what money seems like, Google suggests 5 plastic-coated paperclips. Of all issues.
Some firecrests do breed within the UK however most are winter guests from throughout the North Sea, which makes now a superb time to seek out one, not least as a result of with deciduous bushes and bushes but to come back into leaf there’s much less stuff for the tricksy little beggars to cover behind.
I’ve solely seen a number of – 4 perhaps – in order that they nonetheless rely as an enormous deal with, novelty having its particular attraction. And so they’re a magnificence.
They’re a form of velvety inexperienced, with an orange Mohican and a black eyestripe under a white supercilium (posh phrase, means ‘eyebrow’). They appear a bit grumpy. The goldcrest has a yellow crest and no eyestripe or supercilium. They appear a bit stunned.
We park at Denge Woods, close to Canterbury, and there’s a search and rescue-dog coaching train happening. It is a bit bizarre till we realise it’s only an train and never an enormous lacking individuals hunt.
‘Don’t fear for those who see somebody laying on the bottom,’ says one of many trainers. ‘Except they’re actually not transferring,’ provides one other. ‘During which case whistle and we’ll come.’ OK, lad.
Into the woods and inside a couple of minutes what feels like an aviary – twitter, chitter, chatter, chirrup.
It’s 50 or so siskin feeding on the prime of some alders – neat little finches they’re, the males buzzing yellow towards the blue sky.
Invigorated we stroll on till ‘THERE!’. A tiny factor, flitting and coming up within the ivy.
Is it a goldcrest or a firecrest? Come on you swine, present us your face.
Orange crest or yellow? Neck aching from craning, ivy leaves in all of the fallacious locations till BOOM. Orange. YES.
We watch it hopping about feeding for 15 minutes. After which there’s one other. The woods, the final of winter, on fireplace just a bit.
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