Saturday, 13 February 2010

Bullfinch feeding on snow covered Bramble

Just 20 feet down the garden we have left a thicket of Bramble and Dog Rose build-up over 10 years. After the pond I wonder if this is the most valuable and important wildlife resource in the garden?
In spring it is used as a nesting site for Blackbird and Song Thrush, in summer it is ofter visited by White Admiral Butterfly, Honey Bees and Hornets. In winter there is a roost of House Sparrows and Starlings, and the bramble fruit heads which we leave to go to seed - and admitidely looking rather scruffy, are an important food resource for the scarce Bullfinch. These once common and slightly docile looking finches seem to be scarcer than in my childhood memories. I once read a game-keeping article that considered the decline was caused by an increase number of Sparrowhawks. I guess Gamekeepers would say that, wouldn't they - but the round-headed, thick-necked and dumpy Bullfinch appear to offer a Sparrowhawk an easier catch than, perhaps, an agile Chaffinch?

Back to the garden: As with last winter, we presently have a party of 3 Bullfinches which forage for hours in the bramble stems. There are two striking crimson-breasted males and a demure and equally beautiful female bird. It may just be coincidence, but our Bullfinches seem to appear when the weather is particularly bad - for instance the middle of this snow storm. They're very shy birds making photography a real challenge. I like these pictures because they show the birds feeding naturally and not, for instance, at a bird feeder.

For some reason our Bullfinches will not take any interest in the sunflower or nyjer seed at out feeding stations and once they've depleted the bramble seeds, they'll probably be gone till next winter.

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