Garden Goldcrests, and a cautionary tale

It does look like house move stuff will slow my blogging up the next couple of months. I tend to write on weekends, and at the moment weekends are a sea of paperwork, sorting the clutter, filtering, discarding and general planning.

That said, for the second weekend in a row we’ve had a pleasant surprise in the garden. Following on from last week’s Redpoll, we had two Goldcrests (Regulus regulus). Even better, I managed to grab a couple of pictures this time. Or so I thought.

Here is the cautionary tale. If you’ve been playing with your camera, make sure you switch everything back to normal afterwards. Otherwise, if you grab it in a hurry, your pictures may not turn out so well. Hence these results:


Honestly, there is a Goldcrest there! A little bit of work with some photo editing software makes it a little clearer:


They are fascinating little birds, migrating into the UK in winter from Scandinavia, even from Russia. People could scarcely belief such a tiny bird (Britain’s smallest at about 6 grammes) could fly such distances, so assumed they hitched a lift with bigger migrants. This led to one of their nicknames; The Woodcock Pilot.

Another nickname that may belong to the Goldcrest is “King of Birds”. This isn’t down to their golden crown, more likely it relates to a Greek/Roman myth. Apparently the birds decided to elect a king based on who could fly highest. The Eagle was all set for victory, when the smallest of birds popped out from hiding in his feathers and flew that little bit higher. There is some debate whether this refers to the Wren or the Goldcrest, and both carry notes of regality in their names with the Wren’s Germanic name meaning King, and the Goldcrest’s scientific name ‘Regulus’ also conveying royalty (meaning ‘petty king’ or ‘prince’, leading to the group name of ‘Kinglets’).

Wrens and Goldcrests relatedness has been a subject of some confusion, with Goldcrests sometimes referred to as the ‘Golden-Crested Wren’, which only amplifies the trouble we have in sorting out that Greek myth. But they are two separate families.

This was a pretty fortunate spot, as they tend to favour dense evergreens. Getting two out in the open like this was a real Saturday treat.

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2 Responses to Garden Goldcrests, and a cautionary tale

  1. Alan Lowey says:

    Hello Dave, AL from Red and Blue here:

  2. Pingback: Spurn Point 29 October 2016 | Why watch wildlife?

I welcome thoughts, comments and questions, so please feel free to share anything at all. Thanks, David

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