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Nature Calls: Discovering the firecrest in Kent’s woodlands

Let’s discover the firecrest… (Image: Getty/

With winter lingering at our backs we head to Kentish woodland on the hunt for Britain’s not-quite smallest fowl.

The firecrest might weigh a squeeze greater than its commoner cousin, the goldcrest, however at simply over 5g you’re taking a look at someplace within the area of a 20p piece. Or, if you happen to’ve forgotten what money seems like, Google suggests 5 plastic-coated paperclips. Of all issues.

Some firecrests do breed within the UK however most are winter guests from throughout the North Sea, which makes now an excellent time to seek out one, not least as a result of with deciduous bushes and bushes but to return into leaf there’s much less stuff for the tricksy little beggars to cover behind.

I’ve solely seen a couple of – 4 perhaps – so that they nonetheless depend as a large deal with, novelty having its particular enchantment. And so they’re a magnificence.

They’re a type of velvety inexperienced, with an orange Mohican and a black eyestripe under a white supercilium (posh phrase, means ‘eyebrow’). They give the impression of being a bit grumpy. The goldcrest has a yellow crest and no eyestripe or supercilium. They give the impression of being a bit shocked.

We park at Denge Woods, close to Canterbury, and there’s a search and rescue-dog coaching train happening. It is a bit bizarre till we realise it is just an train and never an enormous lacking individuals hunt.

Spot the orange and also you’re on to a winner (Image: Getty Photographs)

‘Don’t fear if you happen to see somebody laying on the bottom,’ says one of many trainers. ‘Until they’re actually not shifting,’ provides one other. ‘During which case whistle and we’ll come.’ OK, lad.

Into the woods and inside a couple of minutes what feels like an aviary – twitter, chitter, chatter, chirrup.

It’s 50 or so siskin feeding on the high of some alders – neat little finches they’re, the males buzzing yellow towards the blue sky.

Invigorated we stroll on till ‘THERE!’. A tiny factor, flitting and coming up within the ivy.

Is it a goldcrest or a firecrest? Come on you swine, present us your face.

Orange crest or yellow? Neck aching from craning, ivy leaves in all of the unsuitable locations till BOOM. Orange. YES.

We watch it hopping about feeding for quarter-hour. After which there’s one other. The woods, the final of winter, on hearth just a bit.

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