St Nicks

Centre for nature and green living

December 2015: Spotlight on … Goldcrest

Goldcrest - after bathing in Tang Hall Beck

Goldcrest – after bathing in Tang Hall Beck

Goldcrest (Regulus regulus) is one of Europe’s smallest birds, equalled only in size by Firecrest. Weighing in at just 6 – 6.5 grams, the weight of a 10p coin, this tiny bird makes some astonishing journeys. Every winter, many thousands make the journey across the North Sea from Scandinavia to spend the winter in the UK. Their arrival often coincides with the arrival of the much larger Woodcock, which used to cause speculation that Goldcrests rode on the back of Woodcocks, because people didn’t believe that such a minute bird could make that journey over the North Sea!

Goldcrest near the Story Telling Circles

Goldcrest near the Story Telling Circles

At St Nicks, Goldcrest is an occasional visitor, although sightings have been increasing. In 2013, there was only one record, but in 2014, the number of sightings had increased to seven, and there have been more records in 2015. This is possibly due to increased awareness by observers. With their small size and rapid movement as they feed, they can be difficult to spot – and even more difficult to photograph! Their high-pitched song, a rapidly repeated series of extremely high-pitched notes, lasts three or four seconds, and is repeated at intervals. If you listen carefully, you can hear the call here You may need to turn your speakers up!!

Although they are often seen on their own, they sometimes associate with winter feeding tit flocks.. Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits.

Goldcrest along the Cycle Track

Goldcrest along the Cycle Track

Apart from their diminutive size, one distinctive feature is the yellow central marking, bordered by black stripes, on their heads, which gives the bird its name, and a prominent dark eye. Where to look for them in St Nicks? Well, they could turn up anywhere. But some of the best sightings have been near the Kingfisher Culvert and near the Story Telling Circles. Good luck!

21 December 2015 | Categories: Spotlight on... | Tags: goldcrest