Sunday, 9 October 2011

Theres gold in them there woods...

If you go down to the woods today... then you might well come across people very intently peering into the tops of trees with binoculars. What they will be looking for is a bird called a yellow browed warbler which is a species that migrates south-west from its breeding grounds in Siberia, and often stops for a meal and a break in coastal woodlands en route. We see them most years at St Abbs, but there have been a good number this year so we have also had a migration of groups of birders searching them out. They are tiny, and dot about a lot in the tops of trees so its a pretty neck aching job to find them. Luckily there are also large numbers of goldcrests (picture left) about too, so even if you cannot catch sight of the YBW then you will be able to watch these beautiful little birds instead. This is Britain's smallest resident bird (weighing in at a mere 5-6g) and breeds in pine forests, but large groups of them get together and roam further afield in autumn and winter. They are about the same size as a YBW so a good way of getting your eye in whilst you search too!

But not everything that glitters is a goldcrest...there are also flocks of goldfinches flying around out there too (picture right). Most people are more familiar with these delightful looking birds as they are a relatively common site on farmland and open ground in the breeding season and regular visitors to bird tables in the autumn and winter. Your attention is usually drawn to flocks of goldfinch by their lovely twittery calling as they fly around, and they love to feed on thistle seed heads in late summer and autumn.

So, its an exciting time of year to be bird watching, as you never know what you might see. And St Abbs, being a headland sticking out into the sea, is a great place for birds to make first landfall, and refuel before carrying on with their mammoth journeys. So why not get out there and join the gold rush?!

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