22 November 2009

All things great, but particularly small

After a pretty quiet morning at Leam Valley, I'll dwell (albeit briefly) on two of the reserve's smaller residents - the treecreeper and the goldcrest.

Both are resident breeders in the little woodland patches along this stretch of the River Leam, and both are more often heard than seen. The treecreeper, which I saw twice today, is an extraordinary little bird. With its mottled brown back and white belly, and its habit of creeping and darting up tree trunks, it looks for all the world like a little mouse - apart from the distinctive decurved bill that is.

The goldcrest is officially Britain's smallest bird, and it's habit of feeding high in the dense branches of conifer trees doesn't make it easy to see. Its little high pitch seep-seep calls are the giveaway though, and when you do catch sight of one you'll see the most beautiful delicate little creature.

So, apart from good views of both these elusive birds today there wasn't much else to report. The scrape is still running ridiculously dry (with nothing on it but a pair of grey herons), the woods are full of blue, great and long-tailed tits, a flock of goldfinch and siskins flashed by at one point, I got good views of a small bullfinch group, and there are plenty of thrushes around, including blackbirds, song, redwing and fieldfares.

Oh, and one final point worth mentioning - not one but two song thrushes were in full song today. This is either by some margin the latest or earliest singing I have ever heard from this species - unseasonal warm weather, another crazy climate change symptom? Who knows?

Bird of the day: Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris), a common bird that is elusive enough to make each and every sighting a special one.

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