During all that rain, Ian spotted a goldcrest by the wooden footbridge into Village Green. Goldcrests are Britain’s smallest bird; a tiny flash of yellow against the dark green of a pine tree.
Despite their tiny size, goldcrests are highly migratory, with a large influx of birds from Scandinavia arriving on the east coast of Britain every autumn. They arrive from late August through to early November, and leave the following March and April. Here, in the reserve, March or April is when we usually see them, probably migrants on their way back to their breeding grounds in northern Europe.
Goldcrests do nest in Britain and those that do are sedentary, seldom moving far from where they are hatched. Every year we hope that a pair of goldcrests will decide to stay and look for a nest site in the reserve. Their nest would be a spherical cup made of lichens, cobwebs, moss and hair, usually suspended in twigs near the end of a conifer branch high in the tree.
Typically the female will lay a clutch of 9 -11 eggs; most pairs try to rear two overlapping broods each spring, with the female starting the second clutch in a new nest before her first brood have fledged. The male assumes responsibly for feeding the first brood as soon as his mate starts to incubate the second clutch of eggs.
Keep an eye out for goldcrests in our copses and, please, tell us if you see one.
UK conservation status: Green, population decreasing. Protected by the Wildlife Act 1981
Photographs: header picture by Gail Hampshire (CC2.0)