The Striking Bullfinch

This morning, while having breakfast, we had a startling, striking visitor to our garden. A Bullfinch! If you don’t know what it is, it is a relatively large finch, heavily built, with black, pink chest and highlights of grey and white. Mid-summer, it is stunning for a small bird. They’re also somewhat people-averse; unlike tits or other finches, they like hiding in bushes or trees and don’t seem to enjoy sharing space with humans (good policy, they’re smart birds).

I’ve long hoped to see one in the garden. There are quite a few of them nearby, I can hear them and occasionally see them, but in the middle of an estate is a bit of a stretch for them so I had resigned myself to not seeing any. This morning, one came, first viewing the garden, then inspecting each feeder in turn, briefly. And then it left, presumably having noted all the available foods on offer.

The new feeder is a mixed bag; on the one hand, it protects the food and the smaller birds from the voracious Magpies, but on the other hand, it’s not high up and with good visibility, which is how many birds prefer it. The tits have finally decided that they like it, so it is now packed for much of the day with Blue, Coal and Great Tits, but no finches, no Robin, no Dunnock (these two don’t feed directly, but on whatever results from other birds feeding), no Blackcap, no Starlings. I haven’t figured out if this is because I moved the feeding post, or the over-abundance of Magpies, or the over-abundance of Magpies was caused by me moving the feeder, or is it seasonal, or the lockdown altered patterns for birds (this has been observed), or because I didn’t put out much food for a month or two during lockdown, or some random factors.

So I was glad to see a visiting Bullfinch, I just hope that the other birds eventually return or at least have found something better than my garden.