A charm through the gloom

The fog lay thick through the dawn swirling in the orange glow of the street lamps. As the lights switched off one by one still the fog obscured trees and houses, a thick blanket through which the cool blue of morning now seeped through. Thought murky, damp and cool, the morning was still with not a breath of wind. Beads of water droplets gathered on the branches and last few leaves of the almost bare trees, on the spiky needles of evergreens and on the fine, black mesh of the net. Hanging, glittering in the murky light like tiny strings of fairy lights before they were shaken away.

Stunning adult male Goldfinch
Even before the nets are fully open birds were gathering in the top of the tree. Bold, brazen, perched and looking down on the activity below, and yet cautious, not willing to go any closer for now. Once the ringers are clear of the nets the birds venture down, working their way through the shelter of the tree to the food hanging so conveniently beneath its slender boughs. Inevitably and as planned, as birds leave the feeders some are caught in the pockets of the net.
Female Great Spotted Woodpecker

As the morning progresses the dull and murky fog was never far away, so that the forest surrounding the small open patch of paddocks and garden was never more than hazy shapes of tree and branch. The gloom was only broken by the splash of brilliant colour and character by those little feathered beauties that fell into the net. A whole charm of Goldfinch. Some are adults, with bright bold colours and fresh pristine feathers. Velvet black wings, clean bold white patches, vivid red, stunning yellow and the soft chestnut brown merging into a white belly. Then then were the youngsters, feathers a little more worn, colours a little more muted.

It is not just the Goldfinches that brighten this gloomy morning. The raucous cry of woodpeckers cuts through the gloom. There is a different beauty in the bold black and white pattern and the flash of bright red of these birds. The first two caught are young females, there are brown worn feathers in the wing and their heads are completely black. The third is an adult male, the wing is completely glossy and black, and there is a strip of brilliant red cutting through the black at the back of the head.

Male Great Spotted Woodpecker

With lunch time approaching the number of birds starts to dwindle and it is time to pack up and head for home…

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