“There’s a greenfinch! Quick! Come and look!” Robert was shout-whispering up at me from the kitchen. “I thought they were all dead! That’s good. Oh it’s wonderfully marked too. Beautiful!” he paused “Come on, come down quickly. But don’t make a noise!” He hissed up the stairs.
My office is just above the kitchen with the same, but elevated, view of the bird table. “I can see it from up here.” I whispered “Oh look, and there’s the female. Just behind the chaffinch. Can you see?”
“No, no that’s another female chaff…oh no, yes, wait, yeh, I can. That’s nice. That is nice. I really thought they were all done for. We haven’t seen any this year, have we? Do you remember when there were hundreds of them?”
Our bird table, directly outside the kitchen window, is a huge source of pleasure to us and to friends and visitors. Many’s the time when someone new to the farm becomes mesmerised mid-sentence as some bird or other is spotted feeding and they’ll turn to you with excitement, gabbling “I just saw three nuthatches (or marsh/willow tits, greater spotted woodpecker babies or similar). I did. There. On the table!” Jabbing a finger in the direction of the window they are rather nonplussed by our nonchalance!
We are lucky, we have huge variety and number of birds that come to feed; most probably because we are in such a rural position and there are no other bird feeding stations for miles around, unlike those more urban locations where the birds can become picky due to the vast choice available to them.
But back to the greenfinches. They used to be one of the most numerous birds at the bird table when we first put up in its current spot about thirteen years ago. But over the last few years they have declined rapidly (possibly due to the trichomoniasis outbreak) and now we are lucky if we see just a few a year. Robert is worried, especially as they were so common. (Oh excitement again…I’ve just been downstairs to let the puppy out and seen another female greenfinch feeding!). But they appear to still have green (OK) status with the RSPB. Are they all with you?
It used to be the other way round with the bullfinch though. Now there’s a bird that’s increased markedly in numbers around our bird table. We are so used to the eye-catching bright pink-red of the male, that now we would prefer to see the subtler greens and yellows of the greenfinch! Still, we’re not complaining. Bullfinches have red (threatened) status because they’ve declined so much nationally. (I suppose it’s only right that greenfinches should have green status and bullfinches red status.) We are lucky to have so many of them, and they don’t damage the fruit trees much, as far as we know. Robert thinks it’s the thick dense hedges we have, that keep their nests safe from marauding magpies and jays, which explains why they do so well with us. This year he’s found a couple of nests, and photographed one. That and the constant supply of sunflower seeds!