31 January 2015

Hard earned luck

Let's face it - birding is basically down to luck. It's just that the harder you work at it, the luckier you get :-)

Eurasian siskin (photo: Allan Hopkins)
At this time of year in particular it's helpful to remember that you're unlikely to pick up many new bird sightings unless you actually remember to leave the house.

Thursday was a case in point. With hail and snow lashing the office I was loathe to venture out on my usual lunchtime stroll, but mindful that I hadn't been down to the lake for a fortnight or so I togged up and trudged out.

At first there was precious little reward for a faceful of ice. A lone little grebe and two mallard suffered out on the water, watched by 9 cormorants in their usual tree.

But as I turned for the return trip, the wind now mercifully on my back, the sudden woosh of a small flock of small birds caught my attention. Creeping closer to the river bank I was delighted to lock on to a flock of perhaps 30 siskin, all feeding busily in the alder trees. 

This tiny, mobile and (in the male at least) colourful little finch with the distinct forked tail has been one of my missing winter regulars, so it really felt like this little flock had kickstarted my birding year again after such a slow start.

Reward for a faceful of ice after all.

Bird of the day: Siskin (Carduelis spinus), a winter visitor to these parts, best searched for in waterside alder trees and garden nut feeders (I seem to recall that red is considered the best colour, for some reason). 

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