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Scandinavians Invade UK
Posted: 21st March 2007

Photo © Copyright 2006 Dean Eades
Photo: Dean Eades

Can't believe it's Easter already. I haven't finished paying for Christmas yet. Kind of a strange turn of events that we might get a 'white Easter' this year! As I write this the weather forecasters are predicting snow in Scotland and some parts of northern England over the holiday period.

While many holidaymakers will experience travel delays over Easter, it seems there's no problem with flights out of Scandinavia. At least not for siskins. Thousands of these tiny black and yellow birds have crossed the North Sea in huge numbers this winter in search of food. Large number of them have been showing up in gardens all round the UK.

The siskin is one of the smallest members of the finch family, and it normally feeds on pinecone seeds in the Scandinavian 
forests. This winter the pine trees have produced a very poor crop, prompting these birds to cross the North Sea, and in true Viking tradition, they're pillaging Britainís garden feeding stations.

Photo © Copyright 2008 Andy Grant
This shot was taken recently by Andy Grant at his garden in Shropshire. If you look closely you can see at least 15 siskins (and a couple of goldfinches) below his bird table.

The male Siskin is unmistakable with its bright yellow plumage, streaked with black, and sporting a black cap and bib. Females are somewhat duller and lack the black cap and bib. Both sexes have two bright yellow wing-bars edged with black. Late March and early April is the best time to see Siskins in gardens.

The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), who monitor the movements of Britainís birds, would like to know the true extent of this invasion. Paul Stancliffe, of the Garden BirdWatch Team, said, "We know that there are a lot of Siskins around. What we donít know is just how many birds are involved and how far across the country they have spread. We could be talking about one the largest invasions of this bird for many years."

To report Siskins in your garden, contact the BTO on: 01842 750050, or write to: BTO, GBW, Room 09, The Nunnery, 
Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 2PU.

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Related Links:
UK Safari Siskin Factfile
UK Safari Birds Section
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