New year, new bird

I remember now why I hated the British Winter.  Endless dull days. Probably colder and drier than now but still dreary. I used to do a new year’s day bird count if the weather  was cold, crisp and sunny (not often) but yesterday we hardly left the house. So miserable.

Today I could see the water settled all over the lawn and even the rose bed is waterlogged in one corner. I went out to see how bad it was and slung a pair of bin’s round my neck, just in case. The light was already poor but you never know. And so it proved today. Some high pitched bird calls attracted my attention and I eventually managed to find the owners. A pair of tiny featherballs sporting a crisp, broad, white supercilium. Unmistakeable. Firecrest.

When I left Hampshire the latest Avifauna described it as “A scarce breeder, passage migrant and winter visitor”. The 2014 Hampshire bird report describes it as “A moderately common and increasing resident and passage migrant”. It is also described as under-recorded. So its distribution and frequency have changed. I clearly need no longer go to the New Forest to search for them. They come to me.

There were 2 maybe 3 birds. I had a sighting on the other side of the garden from the first pair but can’t be sure one had not looped around. The birds were inquisitive and confiding. If I had had a camera with me and if it had been significantly lighter I would have been able to take good photos – easily close enough with a 400mm lens. And that will be my goal for tomorrow. Better light please and the birds lingering. I wonder if they will stay and breed as the Goldcrests do.

I have some oddities on the garden list already but plenty of common birds missing. Tawny Owl woke me on new year’s morning. Grey Heron flew over the same day and a Dunnock was around the pond. I don’t see them very often here. But Firecrest is my most unexpected and welcome bird so far. Certainly the Winter seems brighter for its presence. A good start to the birding year.

30 thoughts on “New year, new bird

  1. Happy 2016.
    Had a pair of Firecrests in our back garden in Suttonford, in the early Autumn. Had to look them up.
    At the moment all I see is galahs, lorikeets and cockatoos.
    Obviously not in Suttonford!

  2. I just read that there was no sighting today, so sorry about that, Andrew. But seeing one is a nice feather in your cap and with some luck they may return. Uh-oh. I just looked them up (they are indeed lovely) and see that they dine on moth eggs , larvae and adults. Not sure if that is good or not. You have a nice variety of moths so that would attract them, but it would also reduce your moth population which, I am sure, is already feeding other species. Nature will balance things in the end. I guess we are hoping that they persist…at least long enow for you to get some nice images.

  3. Wow! Lucky you. Firecrests are gorgeous. Let’s hope that they decide to stay and nest. Happy New Year, Andrew. May 2016 be full of wonderful birds, moths, good health and happy snapping! 🙂

  4. Was delighted to see a gold crest two years ago. My first and only sighting; never seen a firecrest. Have had the opportunity of my best ever viewing of barn owls. Two hunt regularly in a field close by to our house. 30 minutes spent watching sees time passing at different rate.

  5. We’ve just spotted three Gold Finches this morning – very pretty. Must let you know, as on your recommendation, I’ve recently finished ‘Meadowland’ – loved it. The descriptive writing is sublime. Thank you!

    • Glad you enjoyed Meadowland, Jenny. It’s a fine book. We have goldfinches behind in the wood but they don’t seem to like the garden. I love their tinkling call.

  6. A new bird is always exciting. In the past it was for me but I’ve not seen a new bird in years since I no longer actively bird watch.

    Hope to see some photos of your Firecrest soon. I need to tap over to Google and see what this little bird is about.

  7. Yes, I suppose the British winters are like the Dutch winters but we do have the herrings and croquets to see us through.
    In Australia the winters are much warmer and above all, sunnier. We noticed that when feeding the birds it has attracted possums. The poo in the morning is proof. Milo is so miffed. He knows! Still, the ham bone will lift his spirit.
    The days will soon get longer, Andrew.

  8. Good find! I don’t know what a firecrest is but my friend Lynn photographs a lot of birds and I’ve never seen one in her collection, so it would be nice to see a picture of one.

  9. Happy New Year Andrew and congrats on the Firecrest!! I can relate with the water woes….we are finally into a week of dry weather (so they say) and as I got a new camera for Christmas, I cannot wait to get out and try her on!!! Here’s to both of us getting our boots dirty! 😉

  10. Yes was miserable here in Co Donegal I went out and got 36 as opposed to the usual 60-70 on the first day of the year. My first bird of the day was a Whooper flying overhead, followed by a Treecreeper not what I would have guessed. Have yet to see a Firecrest lucky you

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