Crane Spotter – November – Fireworks Have Arrived

November – fireworks have arrived

The boys are back in town! Or village, if that’s what you prefer to call it. And the girls too. I’m talking of Siskins, those tiny finches that brighten many a dull winter day in and around the Surrey Hills.


So far it has been something of a mini invasion. Scores of these yellow, green and blackstriped birds have irrupted from north and east Europe to feast on Autumn’s conifer, alder, and birch seed harvest.


They are currently roaming the forests around the Greensand Way. You will hear them first – chattering, squeaking and wheezing as flocks of a score or more skip just above tree level to raid the next larder.
Often these little bounders don’t seem to know where they are going. Excited groups can unpredictably explode like fireworks in all directions before agreeing the best route.
But they are brilliant navigators. Some have made it down from Scotland to join small but increasing numbers of this species who are now breeding locally. But others have flown much further, from Scandinavia, the Baltic countries, Russia, and the Ukraine.
When food supplies in Winterfold and Pitch Hill run out then you can attract them down into your garden with sunflower hearts and seethese goldfinch-sized birds close up. They rarely arrive in my garden until well into January.
Last winter was a very poor year for siskins in much of the south of England as there were plentiful food supplies further north. But this year they started arriving as early as July. So do enjoy these agile avian tigers while you can. Next year will be different.

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