Golden Fire

First of all- apologies for my absence. I think I’ve very nearly given Chris a run for his money on disappearing from the blog…

Either way, I am back and I am birding. The birding actually didn’t go away, I’ve just felt very quiet over the last (rubbish) couple of weeks. What I have realised is that even if I don’t technically go birding, birds and the wonderful moments that go with them are actually all around me all the time. It’s just a matter of keeping my eyes open and seeing what is out there.

Now- I feel compelled to blog after the laziest weekend’s birding I have ever partaken in. I knew I was onto a good thing when Chris and I watched a pair of Goldcrest flitting about the trees in my neighbour’s garden on Saturday morning before we’d even changed out of our PJs. We had a somewhat leisurely start to Saturday which mostly consisted of me insisting I wasn’t going to get ready to go out until I’d had some proper viewing of the garden Goldcrests, which took longer than I expected but was worth the wait. These little ping-pong balls of birds are pretty flighty and I only ever grab a fleeting glimpse in the garden but it is lovely to know they are there. I’m yet to photograph one of these beauties, but as a picture paints a thousand words, I’ve tracked down a beautiful image from someone else:

Saturday turned out to have a warbler family theme. Spurred on by our morning Goldcrests, we set out to Blackwater Arboretum in the New Forest to track down one of Chris’s Top 10. I’ve been swotting up recently, and my recent purchase of ‘Where to Watch Birds in Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight‘ may well be my secret weapon to winning the Big Year. My new birding bible reliably informed me that Blackwater is the most reliable site for Firecrest in the county, so we set off with high hopes. In less than 10 minutes wandering, we spotted some tiny birds flitting about in the conifers. Another 10 minutes or so waiting patiently on a bench with our binoculars ready showed us exactly what we had been hoping for- Firecrest!

These gorgeous little warblers are only slightly larger than their teeny Golden cousins, but my are they beautiful in the flesh. I’d always worried that when I eventually came across a Firecrest I’d struggle to tell it wasn’t a Goldie. I suppose it helps that at this time of year they are in super smart breeding plumage so they really stand out, but they were so much more colourful in real life than I ever imagined. Their backs are a spectacular green and their crests are vivid, highlighter pen orange with a strikingly striped face. Amazing. Again the photos are not mine:

Firecrest (Regulus ignicapilla) at Arundel WWT...

Regulus ignicapilla English: A Common Firecres...

As I suspected, after watching these beautiful birds for a morning, nothing else quite matched them for magic, so we lazily enjoyed the sunshine and an ice cream whilst we watched Chaffinch*, Goldcrest and Firecrest flitting about in the treetops. I couldn’t have asked for more from a Saturday morning.

Jo

* Is it just me or has the Chaffinch on the RSPB eaten a LOT of beetroot?! I have never seen a Chaffinch so red in my life. Gets me every time I view that page- I love it! Click the link and let me know what you think…

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