“A rude awakening” (Photo courtesy of Nature's Home reader, Matthew Parratt)

Seasonal transitions bring an accompaniment of alterations to our wildlife, weather and also, to many of our personal lives. The run up to autumn marks that time of year again when students across the country are venturing to their respective universities; picking up the keys to their new halls of residence and sinking more pints than they’d care to mention. While many are keen and ready to explore new pastures, not everyone or everything finds adaptation to change so straightforward. This juvenile goldcrest had a rough start to its adventures outside the nest, leaving the safe confines a little sooner than intended. When fiancée Emma encountered the fledgling returning home from a morning run, Nature’s Home reader Matthew Parratt grabbed his camera as they waited for the bird to regain its strength and fly to safety – scooping it up and swiftly away from the felines skulking nearby.  

Fledgling's flying skills aren't usually up to scratch, and having fallen from its nest in a nearby cherry tree the bird found itself in a spot of bother. Photographer Matthew explained, “It wasn't injured thankfully, but resting, so I hope a local cat hadn't got near it. It sat on Emma's hand for a good five minutes, giving me plenty of time to get the camera out and take some close-ups. We placed it back on a tree stump afterwards and it shot back up to the nest shortly afterwards. A nice start to the day!”

Alongside the firecrest, goldcrests are the country’s smallest bird – an adorable member of Britain’s ornithological catalogue. A part of the kinglet and firecrest family, this petite species can be recognised by a vibrant yellow and black stripe running from the crown to the back of their head, or instead with an orange stripe for males, and green-grey plumage. Their tiny size means that thin beaks can squeeze to reach insects between pine needles, and dine on moth eggs, spiders, flies and other small insect life.

Birds of the species tend to weigh no more than a dainty 6g, and reach just 9cm in length! They are 20-30% smaller than the chiffchaff, and the smallest bird in Europe and the Palearctic. Goldcrests flourish in coniferous woodland or green spaces with large mature trees, but they gather in flocks of other small birds during the autumn and winter seasons. As a green-listed species, they're common and widespread throughout the UK. Autumn is a particularly good time to spot goldcrests, as large numbers of the birds arrive on the east coast of the country from Scandinavia, crossing the dunes to reach more desirable habitat.

European folklore sometimes referred to them as “king of the birds” and this little goldcrest evidently knows he’s royalty – well, in my eyes, at least. Just look at that face!


Have you snapped any striking wildlife photos that you want to send in to us? We'd love to see them. Email your pics to the Nature’s Home team at natureshome@rspb.org.uk 

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