Monday, 29 December 2014

Winter has come

Until now the weather has continued to be mild. A week ago the last roses were in bloom. Suddenly the wind has swung around to the North, and a few snowflakes fell as our chickens took their first cautious steps on the loose in the potager.

As we were thawing out over coffee yesterday we became aware that dozens of birds were feeding in the alders outside the front door, where we have hung a large dried sunflower head and a fat-ball feeder. As well as the usual bluetits, great tits, goldfinches, greenfinches and robin, there were some round, plump, bright greenish-yellow stripy small birds wearing black berets. They foraged over the alder seed heads, never staying in the same place for long.

Female siskin - well stripy

Siskins (Tarin des Aulnes, carduelis spinus) had come to visit us again. We blogged about them in 2010 here, here,(with pictures) in 2011, here and here in 2013, but we missed them last winter, when it was mild all the time. I make no excuses for doing another post about them.

Acrobats on the alder - male siskins

They cling, bobbing up and down, to the skinniest twigs to pick out the alder seeds, and twist themselves into knots to get at their favourite food. Their name in French means "Alder Finch".

Ever charming

Today they came back, and explored the cherry tree and the willows as well as the alders. In the sunlight they looked even prettier. The males were in one group and the females in another, in different trees.

female siskin - one of my favourite photos

Male siskin - bright colours aren't everything you know!

Now let me see....

I know there's a seed in there

Alder seed on its way down

Always they were in the company of other birds, mainly goldfinches and sparrows.

Goldfinch selecting an alder seed

Goldfinch - slightly unusual view, of the back of the neck

My picture of the day. Just an ordinary sparrow.


RestlessinFrance said...

May all that delights you in the natural world bring JOY and happiness in 2015... even the prepping,maintaining and harvesting of the potager!

Tim said...

Thank you RiF...
the same to you...
and Baron&RonRon send the same to BigFeet!

Amelia Frenchgarden said...

Beautiful photographs, I'm going to keep a sharp look out in Alder trees in the future. Amelia