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Goldcrest or Firecrest?

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Old Friday 1st October 2004, 11:40   #1
Paul_Gower
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Goldcrest or Firecrest?

I wonder if anyone can tell me how likely it is to see a Firecrest on Gower? This morning I had a brief view of a v. small bird with an orange crest running around in the foliage of an old apple tree. The tree is in an area of mixed deciduous copse, with ash, hazel, bramble, bracken, hawthorn, blackthorn, wild cherry etc., but there are no conifers or spruce around. I saw what I took to be a goldcrest a few weeks back, also among ash and hazel. But the books say g. crest prefers conifers while f.crest likes deciduous. Goldcrest is I gather much more common.

The bird was running around like a tree creepr, but there was enough leaf to make it tricky to get a good view of eye markings, which seems to be the diagnostic feature.

Any thoughts?

Paul
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Old Friday 1st October 2004, 11:47   #2
Andrew Whitehouse
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Hi Paul,

I think you've almost certainly seen a Goldcrest. Goldcrests mostly breed in conifers but at this time of the year, when they're migrating, they turn up in all sorts of situations and are often in deciduous trees (and will be to some extent through the winter). Firecrest is possible but is mostly a scarce migrant in Britain.
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Old Friday 1st October 2004, 11:49   #3
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At this time of year, Firecrests are on the move and they can crop up anywhere, incliuding, presumably, the Gower. However, if what caught your eye was the orange crest then you almost certainly had a Goldcrest in my opinion. If it was a Firecrest it is more likely that the thing you would have noticed before everything else would been the bright white supercilium. Firecrest gives the impression of a rather brightly-coloured bird; Goldcrest is a rather dull one, though that may not be a very helpful distinction until you have seen both.
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Old Friday 1st October 2004, 12:47   #4
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I had a similar experience last weekend, but have no idea either, but am hoping to find out next Saturday when I go to the head, but what I heard was in bramble bracken and gorse, my friend saw it and described it as bright gold coloured but very small. I always thought the orange was more likely to be firecrest but gold was goldcrest, but then who am I to say, being only a novice.
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Old Friday 1st October 2004, 12:59   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Whitehouse
Hi Paul,

I think you've almost certainly seen a Goldcrest. Goldcrests mostly breed in conifers but at this time of the year, when they're migrating, they turn up in all sorts of situations and are often in deciduous trees (and will be to some extent through the winter). Firecrest is possible but is mostly a scarce migrant in Britain.
I agree with Paul, it is most likely to be a male goldcrest although odd firecrests sometimes turn up away from southeast England. I am not sure if this is correct (and perhaps someone could add to this) but i have a feeling that most of the firecrest records away from the southeast tend to occur in the second half of wintyer. I stress that this is just an impression I have picked up from hearsay and it may not be correct.
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Old Friday 1st October 2004, 15:11   #6
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I think Jason has it right - if you only saw the 'crest' without seeing anything else on the bird then it was a Goldcrest. A Firecrest is a real 'brick between the eyes' when you actually see one. The colour of the crest doesn't actually help you that much. Goldcrests are neat, but Firecrest are real stunners !

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Old Friday 1st October 2004, 15:50   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian Peters
I am not sure if this is correct (and perhaps someone could add to this) but i have a feeling that most of the firecrest records away from the southeast tend to occur in the second half of wintyer.
Not at all correct I'm sorry Mr.Peters.
A visit to any Cornish valley or the Scillies in October will reveal the little fellas. Certainly more than the SE of England at any time of year.
Ofcourse, this is down to observer coverage, but hey, aren't all records?
My vote would also be for a Goldcrest, Paul.
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Old Friday 1st October 2004, 16:05   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CJW
Not at all correct I'm sorry Mr.Peters.
A visit to any Cornish valley or the Scillies in October will reveal the little fellas. Certainly more than the SE of England at any time of year.
Ofcourse, this is down to observer coverage, but hey, aren't all records?
My vote would also be for a Goldcrest, Paul.
Misrepresenting my words again Chris? Then again, you admit it is down to observer coverage thereby discounting your own contention.
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Old Friday 1st October 2004, 16:59   #9
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Thanks Everyone,

It was most certainly the crest that was the most striking thing on both occasions, so as usual the tendency to go with the most common option seems to be the right one!

How much longer are they likely to be around - do any overwinter?

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Old Friday 1st October 2004, 20:56   #10
Bluetail
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Hi Paul. Goldcrests are with us all the year round. Ours don't migrate (so far as I know).
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Which having heard, I'll do the like for thee.

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Old Sunday 3rd October 2004, 16:34   #11
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Deciding that this is definitely a forum I should spend some time in as I know NOTHING ! This was first thread I read - it's great that the experts here point out these nuances of identification - and isn't the gallery a wonderful tool, I went straight there searched on both species and there you have the most wonderful, clear photos to illustrate the identification point made.

Thanks folks

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Old Sunday 3rd October 2004, 22:52   #12
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The crest colout is not of much help in ID'ing these two species - in both the female's crest is yellow, while the male is more orange. From your decription it was most likely goldcrest, as others have mentioned the bold face markings really stand out on firecrest.
Was out with a friend last year who had not seen firecrest before and asked what to look for - my advice was to look for the goldcrest in stage make up.
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Old Sunday 3rd October 2004, 23:02   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by postcardcv
Was out with a friend last year who had not seen firecrest before and asked what to look for - my advice was to look for the goldcrest in stage make up.
Excellent!
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Come doleful owl, the messenger of woe,
Melancholy's bird, companion of Despair,
Sorrow's best friend and Mirth's professed foe
The chief discourser that delights sad Care.
O come, poor owl, and tell thy woes to me.
Which having heard, I'll do the like for thee.

(Anon c.1607)
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Old Monday 4th October 2004, 00:12   #14
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A woodland of mainly beech and ash (and some other stuff that I can't remember), what am I likely to see? Gold or fire?
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Old Monday 4th October 2004, 00:30   #15
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I think you may need to move up into them thar hills to find gold and fire is unlikely in this weather. Oh dear, that fell flat, didn't it?

Seriously, Goldcrest is far and away the more likely. While they do especially like to nest in conifers, they are certainly not confined to them. At this time of year they will roam anyway, often with tit flocks.

Have we had any pics in this thread yet? These illustrate the differences well:
Goldcrest (note the bland face pattern and comparatively dull colours)
Firecrest (note the striking black and white head pattern and the brighter green)
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Come doleful owl, the messenger of woe,
Melancholy's bird, companion of Despair,
Sorrow's best friend and Mirth's professed foe
The chief discourser that delights sad Care.
O come, poor owl, and tell thy woes to me.
Which having heard, I'll do the like for thee.

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Old Monday 4th October 2004, 00:49   #16
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Hi all,

Given a good 'run' of mild winters, Firecrests can expand their breeding range hugely; in 1990 I was finding them breeding or on territory at up to 1700 feet altitude around the Gwent/Powys border; the following winter was very harsh and we probably lost all of the Welsh population. The winters have been mild again recently and I am told that they have increased their population in the county again. A few Firecrests on the South Wales coast should be expected.

Get some practice with their calls! Oh, to add to the other plumage pointers - they are very white-bellied compared to the 'dingy' Goldcrests.

Cheers,

Andy.
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Old Monday 4th October 2004, 18:05   #17
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Hi paul, firecrests are seen at times on Gower but usually I think later in the year. Over the years I can remember hearing of a few from whiteford point. Also there is a site just off worms head I think its mewslade valley which had a number of good migrants last year which I think included Firecrest, but I definitely recall yellow browed warbler on a no of occasions. Check out the Glamorgan bird club website it includes Gower birds.
The goldcrest / firecrest I.D. conundrum is one I remember from when I first started birding, then I saw my first firecrest and thought what the hell are the books on about-they don,t look anything alike at all, other than they are both tiny (I like the description of goldcrest in stage make- up however). I find lots of birds are like that, you read about them, even look at photos but when you see them they look different to what you are expecting. I've think I've largely got my eye in around gwent/glam after 30 odd years birding. I went out to Turkey in August and got lost in a "bewilderment" of wheatears and a "blandness" of grey warblers. (In two weeks I saw one "green" warbler a willow warbler.) The trick is to keep asking questions, reading, interneting and looking at birds in the field until it all starts to make some sense. I'm back out to turkey on the 15th wondering what is going to confuse me this time. Yours John
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Old Wednesday 6th October 2004, 13:00   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluetail
Hi Paul. Goldcrests are with us all the year round. Ours don't migrate (so far as I know).
Goldcrests must migrate a bit, as I've seen at least one spectacular 'fall' of them at Spurn. Unless Im misunderstanding what causes 'falls' (which is quite possible, I'm no ornithologist)
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Old Wednesday 6th October 2004, 18:27   #19
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Hi Alcina. You're right. There are some species where certain populations are migratory and others aren't. Goldcrest is one. It's birds from eastern places like Scandinavia that turn up on our east coast. The British population is non-migratory.
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Come doleful owl, the messenger of woe,
Melancholy's bird, companion of Despair,
Sorrow's best friend and Mirth's professed foe
The chief discourser that delights sad Care.
O come, poor owl, and tell thy woes to me.
Which having heard, I'll do the like for thee.

(Anon c.1607)
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Old Wednesday 6th October 2004, 20:16   #20
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Fantastic discussion - many thanks! Consulting the local Gower Birds report, it seems like I have a chance of seeing migrating Firecrests not too far from here - must go and spend some time looking over the next few weeks! I'll report back if I have any success.

Paul
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Old Monday 11th October 2004, 15:41   #21
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Paul don't know if you've noticed but there was a yellow browed at mewslade yesterday. See glam bird club website.
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Old Friday 15th October 2004, 12:34   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John o'Sullivan
Paul don't know if you've noticed but there was a yellow browed at mewslade yesterday. See glam bird club website.
Damn! Sorry - hadn't checked this thread for a few days! Thanks anyway...
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