A female crest and two pairs of finches.
She arrived for the last of Winter and stayed a month in the Christmas tree. Europe’s smallest bird. Branch hopping. Flitting in and out of the needled shadows, ceaselessly. Quickly. Often upside down. Endlessly foraging and sweetly chiming like a clear, golden bell. My best attempts to photograph her – from a distance, with a long lens, hand-held, through dusty double glazing were, for the most part, a lot like trying to catch rainwater in a sieve.
I have fared little better, photographically, with the heavier-set greens. Emboldened at the feeders, as they are, by their own relative sturdiness, they tolerate being gazed upon – but only by the naked human eye. At even the slightest hint of a camera or binoculars being focused in their direction they are away, their lab-flask beaks spilling out seeds for the ground feeders below; their yellows, blacks, whites and olives evaporating in a sudden smudge of grey.
The ‘thistle finches’ have at least alighted before a prettier, blossomed backdrop, arriving mid-Spring as they did. Warm hues radiating out of their sharply sartorial, slender selves. Nature’s concession to impossible, unachievable close-ups. They show little interest in nyjer seeds, flocking always to the plump sunflower hearts and suet cakes first. I sowed and scattered teasel seeds for them last Autumn. Something difficult-to-identify is growing. It might be greater knapweed – cast there, along with many other seed species – for diversity and with butterflies in mind. Buoyant, skitting petals evading capture.
Like trying to gather dewdrops in gauze.