Unusually high numbers of Britain’s smallest bird, the Goldcrest, have been seen in Tower Hamlets this autumn. Goldcrests breed commonly in Britain, but numbers of resident birds are swelled every autumn by migrants escaping the cold winters in Scandinavia. These arrive, often in huge numbers, on the east coast, then disperse across the country. Some spend the winter in the UK, while others continue south to winter around the Mediterranean. In the breeding season, Goldcrests are found almost exclusively in conifers, but in autumn and winter they will happily feed in a wide range of habitats, gleaning insects from trees and shrubs. They often join flocks of tits. Tiny and fast-moving, they can be difficult to see well, but are easily detected by their very high pitched “see-see-see” calls.
In Tower Hamlets, a pair nests in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park in most years, and they may occasionally nest in Victoria Park. One or two are also seen in most autumns in a few other sites. This autumn’s arrival of Goldcrests in the borough has been exceptional. The highest counts have been eight or more in Cemetery Park and at least seven in Victoria Park. At East India Dock Basin, where there is an average of about one Goldcrest every two or three years, up to two were seen on four dates in October, with probably at least 4 different birds passing through. Other records have come from Mudchute and St George’s Gardens.
Both photos were taken by David Darrell-Lambert in Victoria Park in early November.