An odd obsession with a Goldfinch…

Roll back a few weeks and I couldn’t tell you what a goldfinch looked like.

Although I grew up next to a forest and spent most of my childhood roaming around it up to various kinds of mischief, I was never taught, and have never studied, nature.  I’ve always loved  being outdoors in the fresh air, far from the maddening crowds, listening to the birds and bees, watching the wind move trees and stir the surface of lakes, ponds and streams etc etc.  I’d love to say I used to enjoy long walks with my parents where they would teach me about fauna and flora, taught me to respect my environment and how to care for it.  Alas that just ain’t so and I bumbled along with my mates getting up to the normal shite kids do; making camps, playing war, sword fights with the biggest stick you could possibly wield (generally losing and getting thumped alot), and getting as far away from home as possible whilst still being able to make it back by tea time.

I hate pollution.  I hate the impact humanity is having on the planet. I hate the impact I am having on this planet, and I’m only one or two steps away from going vegetarian but as yet I haven’t (most days I do not eat meat).  Taking all that into account what I have never done is make any real study into nature.

Then just recently I started to take notice of the birds in the garden and when Kate exclaimed one day that she had seen a Goldfinch for some reason I just had to know more.  As a little bit of background; we’ve lived in Youlgreave, a quiet village in the Peak District, for over 5 years now and I have spent SO MUCH TIME sitting in the garden watching the day go by and admiring the view and the birds without ever knowing which ones they were.   This is best summed up by the time  I asked Kate “what are those black birds with the orange beaks called?”. Yes, it was a Blackbird.

I also read the book The Goldfinch on my kindle a while back and managed to make it all the way through it without ever looking up just watch a goldfinch looks like (and if the book described the bird I really can’t recall it*) so it seems now odd that once I found out we had some visiting us in the Garden that I became so fascinated by it.  First of all I had to look up just what it was, and then I started to spend my morning coffee time sitting in the window looking out for it.  My first sighting came very quickly but suddenly that wasn’t enough! I wanted a photo.  Much hilarity ensued as I initially tried to capture it on my iphone through the window at a distance of around 8 meters (little more than dots in trees) so I had to dig out my camera (who still has one of those!!?!) and even that is just a simple point and shoot one with a small internal zoom. Cue a few more days of fumbling around trying to capture the little buggers as the flit in and away from our bird feeders with little success.  Next step: a tripod!  God knows which storage box my travel tripod (a grolliapod) ended up in** but I opened them all up to no avail.  Luckily Kate is a little more organised and has something a bit more professional and hey presto, I was ready; I poured a beer and sat back to wait . . .

the setup
The set up!

. . . and the blooming Goldfinch stopped showing up.

How very dare they!  We still have lots of tits in our garden: great tits, blue tits, long tailed tits (look at me and my new found wealth of avian knowledge) and they did provide some good practice;

great tit
A Great Tit (black head)
Blue tit
a Blue Tit (blue head)

However it soon became clear that my little camera really wasn’t up to this kind of zoomed in, quick motion capture: but to hell with it.  No freaking way am I splashing out for a new camera!***

And then they came back!  We put out some niger seeds and some sunflower hearts (which are shucked sunflower seeds for lazy birds) and they love ’em!  So after much ado I give you..

The allusive Goldfinch!

We actually have a pair in the garden but getting a picture of them together is proving even more difficult – but rest assured the quest continues!

Normal service will resume shortly and I can confirm that 1) there are some board game related posts coming soon, 2) I am not turning into a twitcher and 3) there is nothing wrong with being a twitcher anyway and 4) I have not run or exercised in years so 2020 is set to be a renewal of that too.

So whilst more normal (for me) post should follow, it is really interesting to finally start learning something about the natural world directly outside of the door… and I can’t promise this won’t be the last you hear of it.



*it is however a very good book

**Five years after coming back from travelling and I still have substantial amounts of crap in boxes

***he says with more confidence than he actually feels

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