The first thing that alerted me to a minor invasions of Siskins today was their distinctive cat-like calls when I went out side in the garden. There are normally a few days in spring and autumn when these beautiful little finches make use of the garden feeders.
It wasn't long before a female was down at the bird bath, taking a drink. For birds, such as many of the finches, that eat seeds almost exclusively the provision of drinking water is both important and a great lure if you want to see them at close hand.
The feeders and water are set up just outside my study, so apart from letting in the cold air, it was about 4 deg C this morning it is easy to photograph from the open window. The first birds I saw were all females, and they noisily fed on sunflower seed hearts just a few yards away.
It wasn't long before some stunning males arrived, all yellow wing-bars and black caps. These little finches are of a similar size to Blue Tits, and I must admit that the resident pairs of Blue tits didn't seem all that impressed to have these buzzing around their tree (the box is a few feet above the bath).
At one time it was said that it was peanuts in the red plastic mesh bags that attracted Siskins to a feeding station, but these seemed quite happy to feed from a wire mesh feeder. There were still quite a few Chaffinches about, around 40 and Greenfinches were slightly fewer. At one time the only Brambling of the day and two or three Goldfinches meant that I could see five species of finches in one view just outside the window. So far this year there haven't been any Redpolls, it is still possible, but their numbers in the south seemed to be much reduced compared to few years ago. The only other finch that I've seen in the garden is the Bullfinch, and then just on one occasion, when a pair came down to drink.