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Purple on the rocks

  I have the real pleasure of writing my first blog post of 2022 about a trip to Battery Point, Portishead, Bristol to photograph Purple Sandpipers (Calidris Maritima). As many of my readers will know I love waders probably above all bird species and so when I had the opportunity to get some pictures with my good friend Paul Joy of this rare, specially protected and very confiding wader species that winters in the UK coastland I was really excited. Up until this point I had never seen a Purple Sandpiper. They are small waders, bigger than a Dunlin but slightly smaller and less robust than a Turnstone.  They migrate to the UK in the winter from as far away places as Canada, Greenland, Svalbard, Fennoscandia and Russia. They then spend their time along the coasts roosting and feeding on various rocky outcrops. They have a preference for rocks covered with seaweeds where they forage for insects, molluscs and crustaceans. They get their names because of a Purple sheen that can be seen in t

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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