Thursday, 19 October 2017


I could just write that over a two-and-a-half hour period we counted 6,175 Goldfinches moving E to SE, but the drama and spectacle of the event would be truly lost. Bare facts are not enough.

They started moving by 07.30hrs, a steady procession of modest sized flocks, keeping low and flying into the SE wind. Their progression over the shingle was uncomplicated, across the open beach and either out over the sea or a continued coasting. A thousand had been counted through when Mark H suggested meeting him on the very point of the peninsula itself. As the wind was light and the weather dry, the open nature of this new place of observation was not an impediment on our ability to observe and count accurately. The birds were still coming, and with our 360 degree view they were coming in greater numbers. There was a sudden shift in volume - the flock sizes increased and they were arriving on a broader front. There were times when we had groups join together in front of us, at one point 300 birds massed and flew directly over and around us in one jangling blizzard. The noise was amplified as we were cocooned in Goldfinches. As the wind strengthened a notch, and veered southerly, the birds did not want to move on directly over the sea as they had done. We were then treated to a sky littered with confused flocks that coalesced, broke up and joined once more, wheeling around, a fidgety mass. A mass that reached 500+. We needed to be on our guard so as not to double count. We were joined by Martin C and his other pair of eyes helped us to confirm whether the flocks had moved through or not.

And still they came. Low over the beach. Cascading above us. All the time tinkling away. With them were other species, but in far fewer numbers - Linnets, Siskins, Redpolls, Chaffinches, Meadow Pipits, Pied Wagtails and a single Hawfinch that stood out thuggishly against the accompanying Goldfinches before it peeled off and headed north. By 10.00hrs the movement had virtually stopped.


Stewart said...

Brilliant. Would have loved to see that.

Phil Slade said...

Goldfinches are by far the most numerous bird in gardens and elsewhere around here. Such a hugely successful species reflected in you seeing so many heading over to France. It would be useful to see comparisons with past years when the Goldfinch was not so abundant.

Steve Gale said...

It was a special morning Stewart

Steve Gale said...

Here at Dungeness it has increased over the past few years without doubt, whereas Greenfinches have plummeted. There is some school of thought Zphil which suggests Goldfinches filled the vacuum that the Greenfinches left behind.