I attended a talk at my local bird club this week, the Shoreham & District Ornithological Society. It was a lovely evening among 80 or so people, where we were whisked off by the speaker (the ever-popular Bernie Forbes) for a tour of the beautiful island of Lesvos, so much in the news these days because of the human migrant crisis.
As slide after slide came up of all manner of gorgeous and colourful birds, from Bee-eaters to Squacco Herons, plus the abundant poppies and wildflowers that adorn the fields and olive groves, the audience gave little murmurs and ripples of appreciation. It was a powerful reminder of how much nature can wow us, just with its innate beauty.
I passionately believe that one of the best places where we can all have such moments of joy is in our gardens, and I've been having some 'Ooh!' moments of my own recently.
The have been courtesy of this little delight.
I'm afraid the photos are a little grainy in the low January light, as it flits about constantly, nervously, testing me and my camera to our limit. But with those tiny proportions, green back, bronze shoulders and heavy and theatrical eye make-up, there is only one thing it can be - a Firecrest.
This next photo was the best of the bunch - isn't this a cracker of a bird?!
It is the much rarer cousin of the Goldcrest, predominantly confined to a few areas of southern England. It first bred in the UK in 1962 and there are now thought to be over 500 pairs, but that still makes it one of our rarest breeding birds.
It is also seen on migration at coastal hotspots such as along the east and south coasts, and small numbers also winter here in milder parts of the country, especially in the south near the coast. Which I guess is where my garden comes in, a mile or so from the Sussex coast and somewhat sheltered by the South Downs.
Firecrests may be lovely, but when you stop and look, you realise there is beauty all around, in even the commonest of garden visitors.
So, when I'm doing my RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch in a couple of weekend's time, I will be hoping for my Firecrest to come along, just for that bit of top-notch-glamour, but I'm going to enjoy all the other Ooh moments that nature brings.
Well done Adrian really nice pictures and the Firecrest is a truly amazing bird and good luck on your Garden watch.
Beautiful bird. Never seen one - it must know Adrian works for the RSPB!
A definite ooh moment. We have only been lucky enough to spot a Goldcrest in the garden on two occasions, each of them being fleeting visits. I once had to rescue a fledgling from our greenhouse, it is only when you have one in your hand that you can fully appreciate how tiny they are. I've read they like pine trees so have planted three in the garden. Perhaps in 40 years I can have my own Firecrest ooh moment.