October 26th   Leave a comment

Goldcrest – cheer up you’re on holiday

At this time of year the number of goldcrests around Crail increases as we get migrants coming over from Scandinavia to winter in Scotland and further south. If ever you get the feeling that birds are just too fragile to do the things they do then have a good look at a goldcrest when one passes through your garden. Our smallest bird with an appropriately thin high-pitched call, they barely look able to survive a cold night let alone a night’s flight over the North Sea. Yet survive they do. Their tiny bills and active foraging mean that they can find the smallest insects hidden amongst the remaining leaves and branches. A tree to a goldcrest represents a huge area for foraging in and when I watch them they seem to find small spiders and aphids constantly. Very cold weather does kill them of course. Their volume is so small that they lose heat easily and they are too little to keep large fat reserves on them. Any bird given enough food can survive the cold, but if they can’t forage fast enough to make up their heat loss then it is just a matter of time. I am not sure why I am talking about cold weather in the context of Crail. For most of the time goldcrests spend the winter here it will be relatively balmy with temperatures well above freezing. That is why they come here in the first place. It might not feel like a holiday in the sun in Crail in December, but to a Norwegian goldcrest it is the Mediterranean.

Posted October 26, 2017 by wildcrail in Sightings

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