Long-tailed tits and goldcrest

IMG_2851The flash of a small group of birds catches my eye. Despite the distance their long tails can be seen flicking with their movement – it can only mean one thing, the long-tailed tits are back.

I watch the small group of tits through my binoculars as they flit about the trees in the front garden. They always appear attractively ‘cute’ in appearance with their fluffy plumage and dainty movements as they dart amongst the tree branches looking for food. I just love the glimmer of pink on their plumage in the morning sunshine.  They athletically move along the tree branches, pecking here and there, presumably looking for invertebrates such as flies and spiders, despite the winter month. In an instant they all quickly, albeit daintily, fly off together. They were too quick to photograph this time, but I just love watching them. Later I see some on the feeders in the garden for a few minutes, then they too are gone. It’s good to know the feeders are providing food for them if there are not enough insects to be found. I never used to see them come to the feeders but the chance of a sighting has grown recently, although they never stay for very long just a quick feed then they are off again. A friend says the same, they come to the feeders in a group of about ten in their garden and in a few minutes they leave. I love how they are sociable and travel about in a small family flock, it provides an even greater treat for us when they come to the garden.

I always check the ash tree in the garden for birds, as they seem to love it. It’s where I saw the group of long-tailed tits and today there was a faint movement which caught my eye. It wasn’t very big so I grabbed my binoculars and took a look. I could see a little greyish green bird moving about on the branch. I thought ‘surely not’, and then it obligingly turned around to face me and I could see its glorious yellow crown – the goldcrest, the first I have ever seen in my garden! It was moving about at an energetic pace, I had my work cut out to keep it in view. All of a sudden my little friend, literally the tiniest bird in the UK, was gone. I felt a bit star struck for a minute. In all the time I have spent looking out of this window I have never seen one before. The ash tree must be great for insects though, with the long-tailed tits and my solo visiting goldcrest favouring it.

Despite the daintiness and ‘cuteness’ of both of these species they have to be hardy to survive the winter as they both have a small body size and feed on insects. I just feel privileged to have them visiting my garden and hope they are successful in surviving the winter and that they carry on to produce a brood this year.

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