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Skomer Part 1 - The first voyage

A Manx Shearwater I have recently returned from my annual pilgrimage to the island of Skomer, having enjoyed a fabulous three days of birding along the Pembrokeshire coastline with my "Three Amigo" friends Paul and Nicola. We had been planning for the trip for ages. Leading up to our trip the days, hours and seconds seemed to pass ever so slowly. It's then just typical once you end up going on your trip it seems to be over way too quickly - time certainly flies when you are enjoying yourself and in good company. This year we had  arranged three boat trips through Pembrokeshire Boat Trips Day 1 - Seabird Spectacular Day 2 - Skomer Day 3 - Grassholm I have decided to write three blog posts documenting the trip and this is the first one to kick things off. The First Voyage. The weather forecast was looking rather dodgy for the weekend with high winds and rain predicted. Thankfully the dreaded North winds were not expected so there was a very good chance that most of the boat

Surprise Siskin visitors to the garden

I have recently changed some of the bird feed I have been putting out and filled several of the hanging feeders with sunflower hearts.

Its been good to see a Goldfinch making an appearance in the garden throughout the winter but I haven't seen any other species of finch this year apart from a fleeting female Bullfinch.

Last Saturday I looked out the garden and saw something different - it was a yellowy green and smaller than a sparrow.

Looking closer through my lens I was surprised to see that a male Siskin was perched in my Acer Tree.

Since then I have had a pair of them, a male and female coming regularly all week throughout the day.

They adore the sunflower hearts and eat them exclusively.

Siskins (Cardeuelis spinus) tend to prefer mixed coniferous habitats where they feed on conifer, birch and alder trees. In the winter they will take advantage of garden feeders when natural food sources are low.

Have you ever wondered like me where the Siskin name comes from?

Well, I have great book named  :Lapwings,Loons and Lousy Jacks (by Ray Reedman) which explores the origins of bird names.

He states that the name was first seen recorded in 1544 and believed to be of a German "Slavonic" origin and associated with the caged bird trade.

The Siskins have a distinctive call and throughout their visits are constantly calling to each other. They are quite timid and scared of bigger birds like House Sparrows and Starlings. Goldfinches however are tolerated and I have seen both species happily eating from the feeders together.


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