A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Friday, 28 March 2008


The final results of the annual RSPB Garden Birdwatch survey are now in. These are the birds you were most likely to see in the average UK garden in late January 2008:

1. House sparrow
2. Starling
3. Blackbird
4. Blue tit
5. Chaffinch
6. Wood pigeon
7. Collared dove
8. Robin
9. Great tit
10. Goldfinch
11. Greenfinch
12. Dunnock
13. Magpie
14. Long-tailed tit
15. Jackdaw

Although the house sparrow and starling populations have reduced drastically over recent years, they are still there at the number 1 and number 2 spots.

Except for jackdaw, all these species I see regularly in my own garden - though long-tailed tits are not as common, and only in the winter months. Happily surprised to see the goldfinch at number 10 on the list. This again reflects my own experience. I've seen more goldfinches this year than ever before - normally they're infrequent vistors to this garden. Only a few days ago a 'charm' of goldfinches descended on the flowering cherry tree.

Sad that the song thrush seems to be in an inexplicable decline. I haven't spotted one in the garden all year. It's one of my favourite garden birds - handsome, and with such a lovely song - second only to the nightingale's. And they're wonderful at controlling the snails which attack the hostas and the beans.

Beating The Bounds mentioned recently the classic book on birds by Viscount Grey of Fallodon, The Charm of Birds. I end with a quote about goldfinches from this charming book:

One of the prettiest nests ever found was a goldfinch's. It was in a yew tree, and the outside of the nest was made of green lichen : the lichen you find on beech boles and wooden palings. The inside was incredibly soft to the touch, which was possible only by a very long stretch, so the bamboo ladder was fetched to get a clear sight of it. Then it was found to be lined completely with dandelion 'clock', each little sphere detached from the many that make the full round of the puff. Another nest, this time lovely in its environment, was again that of the goldfinch. Holding my face deeply into a pyramidal apple-tree in full blossom in order to enjoy the light filtering through the mass of petals that clustered on the boughs so thickly as to shut everything else out, I became aware of the ruby mask of a goldfinch, sitting on her nest not ten inches away. She never stirred; happily I had insinuated myself very gently into this 'world of light'. Neither did I withdraw hastily. I stayed long enough to see how the rose and gold of sunlit apple-blossom could be deepened by this touch of red.

I love the little observant touches of the pyramidal apple-tree, the ruby mask of the goldfinch, and the detail of the bamboo ladder.


Anonymous said...

The decline of the Song Thrush is truly alarming. We never see any greenfinches around this way. I used to see them all the time 'when I were a lad'.

Anonymous said...

PS..I've a new blog address and name 'TIZ YER TIZ' www.tizyertiz.blogspot.com

the other one is now put of use.


Two yards of lard said...

Another fantastic passage. Goldfinches are regular visitors to our garden. Last year a pair nested somewhere in the vicinity and we then had the pleasure of the whole family coming to our feeders.