Posted by: Ross Gardner | January 23, 2013

A Delight of the Winter Wood

It has been pretty cold around here just lately.  For us it has, anyway.  I’m sure that some reading this from overseas would regard -4°C as a veritable mild spell at this time of year.  Nevertheless, the ground has been frozen solid and is only just really thawing out and there has been that sense of wild places shrinking back within themselves and the countryside shivers.

Question.  How does a tiny – Europe’s smallest no less – and entirely insectivorous bird manage to survive such times of prolonged cold?  It is of the Goldcrest that I speak.  They are common enough as UK residents, with some 840,000 breeding territories given by the RSPB.  In winter however, a huge influx from the continent occurs with sometimes as many as 5 million birds descending on our shores.  They have been filling many of the woods around these parts, sprinkling the stark canopy with their thin, whistling contact calls, sounds which can almost seem lost amid the cold gloom of a freezing, cloud-laden January day.  Yet, survive many of them must and for this I find them one of our most remarkable of birds.

They are surprisingly bold, abiding little creatures and one of the delights of the winter wood.

Goldcrest (Regulus regulus).  Ross Gardner 2012

Goldcrest (Regulus regulus). Ross Gardner 2012



  1. Saw one today while doing the Big Garden Bordwatch. You’re right they are tiny but surprisingly bold.

  2. Very nice. Not a bird I’ve ever seen in my garden. More greenfinch than anything else during my hour for the Birdwatch this morning.

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