I was working on the rose tunnel the other day and suddenly became aware of a constant, small companion.


It was a Goldcrest (Regulus regulus), Europe’s smallest bird (along with the similar Firecrest).  I’ve only ever caught a glimpse of one at the Priory before, as it darted into some conifers – their preferred hunting ground.


This one was unperturbed by a gardener and camera looming ever nearer, as she hunted for insects on the roses.


It is a female – males have an orange crest.


Terrific, fearless little bird.  I once watched one endlessly attacking its own reflection in an outside mirror.  After twenty minutes, and fearful for its mental health, I chased it off and covered up the glass – and removed the mirror shortly afterwards.


Like many small birds, their numbers can plummet during harsh winters.  But within a few years the population creeps back up again.  According to the RSPB, the UK winter population is between three and five million, so you’d think you’d see them more often.


But given that they are so tiny, (about 3.5 inches long and a fifth of an ounce in weight) and don’t often come to feeders, I guess it isn’t such a surprise after all.


I’m sure you’ve often wondered how many Goldcrests you can fit in one nest.

Find out here. (Might be viewable in UK only).

49 thoughts on “Goldcrest

  1. Like several others here, I’ve come over via WellyWoman. What a treat it must have been to be able to watch the goldcrest so closely. They do come through our garden on and off, but I find them as mobile as wrens or long-tailed tits, so I’m happy just to be able to watch with the binoculars.


    • Hi Helle, thanks for visiting and commenting. Of the three, I find wrens the most difficult to photo. Whenever I’m walking about the Priory with my camera, it is wrens that I am particularly keen to capture – so far without luck. Dave


  2. Well, like lots of other people, I love your photos of goldcrests, and like Wellywoman, I admire your abilty to take them as I can’t take photos of birds myself – my camera isn’t up to it and the birds don’t stand still long enough! I am a garden designer in Northants. Your two gardens look lovely – good luck with your new career. I used to be a call centre consultant so I know what it’s like to start again (great!). Jane


  3. Hello David, I’m very pleased to have just found your blog via Lou at Wellywoman who recommended your lovely photos to her readers. I agree with her, they’re stunning. I’ve enjoyed reading back over your recent posts – the lambs and calves are SO sweet! I’m joining your mailing list to read more, especially looking forward to your gardening posts in future months!


    • Hi Caro, thanks for your kind words and for the follow. Gardening posts will resume in due course – at least, I hope so. Winter seems a little interminable at the moment though the snow has cheered me up no end. Dave


  4. Pingback: The ones that got away « wellywoman

  5. D’oh! I can’t see the link on my iPad, I’m gonna die without knowing how many of those could squeeze in one nest…. Nevermind, I’m hunting robins today and see how many of them could fit in a bucket. And then I won’t tell you.
    I am so envious of all those “exotic” birds you have at the Priory!


    • Come now, Mr Alberto. You’re as interested in how many goldcrests there are in a nest, as I am in how many robins you can stuff in your bucket (that sounds like a euphemism if ever I heard one). But just so you can sleep easy – the answer is … lots. Putting Robins in a Bucket sounds like a lovely past-time. Is it an Italian sport? Not something I’ve heard of before but sounds great fun (I’m being polite). D


  6. Beautiful pictures Dave – how clever of you to be able to capture this lovely little bird – We don’t get them where we live now they would certainly be a great addition to the garden.


  7. Your photos do credit to this lovely little creature. It’s wonderful to have bird companions when performing gardening chores, but the ones here seldom are so trusting.


  8. We have a pair that we regularly see in our conifers but I’ve never been lucky enough to get good pictures like yours…. they’re so quick and never seem to stop flitting about! Great photos!


  9. Hello again Dave, oh my… what a great sight to see (never seen one – I’m going a tad green) and fantastic to hear this isn’t your first sighting! Great pictures… can we have some more please… and perhaps some video?


  10. Goldcrests are fairly common with me, although they are hard to spot, and, as you say, never come to the feeder.
    In this freezing weather the common wrens are huddling together at night, as is their habit. The house martins’ nest outside my from door is packed with six or seven of them every night. They hate having their sleep disturbed and shout at me if I have to go out.


    • I like the sound of your bossy wrens, Mr K. Must be worth a photo or two, no? As I’ve said below, I find it really tricky to photo wrens – they’re so darn zippy and, at the Priory, very shy. Dave


  11. Oh, what a charmer! I love birds that are so very round like that, especially when they have such outsized personalities. I was thinking that it looked very much like our Golden-crowned Kinglet and then discovered that it is another type of Regulus. Not all that interesting, but once again true. Wonderful photos (as always), Dave!


    • Isn’t she just, Stacy. I’d seen her the day before (sans camera) so was a little breathless trying to get a shot or two when she re-appeared. Needn’t have worried – she paid scant regard to me allowing me to get within a few feet of her. Dave


  12. I didn’t realise they were so brave! A friend found an injured one a cuople of years ago and nursed it back to health, I’d never seen such a tiny bird, great images, well done to get so close. You’re right the BBC video can’t be seen outside the UK. Christina


  13. Superb photographs! I’ve never seen a Goldcrest, only in bird books and even then not with photographs like these ones. They look spunky little birds but if they prefer conifers I don’t think I’ll see them near here.. They remind me a bit of wrens, which we do have and come to feed on the patio.


  14. Wow. Great photos. I spotted a goldcrest for the first time a few weekends ago but it was only fleeting. Still I was pleased to have seen one. To get such amazing shots is impressive. I remember seeing that footage of the nest on Springwatch. Incredible. They look like they are ready to burst out of the nest. It’s like a bird service station in the garden at the moment with all the snow. We’ve filled the feeders 3 times already today.


    • Tell me about bird-feed, WW. We spend a huge amount on it. The problem I have is providing feed over weekends – when I’m not there. Peanuts generally last till Monday but the seeds most certainly don’t. I had a flock of goldfinches there this morning scoffing themselves silly before I scurried off home – when it started snowing. But I bought a fat ball feeder today (out of my own creaky, moth-ridden wallet). Has to be squirrel proof as well so not cheap. Hopefully that will help see them through. Glad you saw a Goldcrest – they lift your day, I think. Keep warm. Dave


  15. What a wonderful companion for you while gardening, makes a change from the usual robin! Many years ago we has one on the kitchen windowsill which was handy for eating the insects on the hydrangea outside.


  16. What a beautifull little bird, iv never seen one before untill now, i will be watching when im about the garden, brilliant photographs, thanks for sharing.
    Best Wishes, Ant


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