Dear Readers, the garden was brightened up by the arrival of a charm of goldfinches today, after heavy rain and blustery winds last night. I have noticed a few of these pretty birds on the feeders during the past few weeks, but the flocks seem to be getting bigger. However, a quick visit to the British Trust for Ornithology website shows that goldfinches are generally migrating in the opposite direction in the autumn: ringed birds have been found in Morocco, Malta and Ceuta. A number have been recovered migrating over the narrow straits between Spain and Morocco over the Bay of Biscay, I’ve always wanted to watch the migrations here – in addition to the small birds, thousands of birds of prey ‘queue up’ waiting for favourable winds to carry them southwards. Most land birds will resist migrating over water as much as they possibly can. Those that do often end up huddled on the decks of cruise ships or perching on the railings of lighthouses to try to regain their strength. These frail little creatures sometimes fly the most extraordinary distances in very inclement weather, not to mention the hunting of songbirds that still goes on in some places. I’m glad that these goldfinches are relatively safe in the garden.
I always thought that goldfinches sometimes arrived in the UK from Scandinavia but it seems that I was wrong, though some birds actually migrate north: goldfinches have been found in the UK that originated in the Netherlands, Germany and France.
However, increasingly goldfinches are staying put: the populations of the bird have been increasingly steadily in all parts of the UK, partly as a result of all those lovely people spending their children’s inheritance on birdfood and partly due to the unfortunate catastrophic drop in greenfinch numbers. There is a school of thought that suggests that, although everyone rushed out and bought nyjer seed for their goldfinches, the birds much prefer sunflower seeds. Greenfinches are much more dominant at the bird feeders, however, and would bully the goldfinches because they prefer sunflower seeds, too. However, once the number of greenfinches had plummeted due to a disease called trichomonosis, the goldfinches were able to feed on what they preferred in peace. However, I did spot this little guy in the cemetery in April, so maybe the greenfinches are on their way back.