Country Corner

What a handsome fellow the cock bullfinch is .

And doesn’t he appear to know it!

Favourite bird of many,the Bullfinch proves the value of shrubs as opposed to trees.

Shrub thickets are the preferred habitat of many creatures, including the bullfinch.

We see so much emphasis on tree planting for conservation, yet so little native shrub planting on a landscape scale.

Another problem is that few people realise the conservation value of bushes so no one objects when they are removed in the name of ‘progress’ or neatness, those two great destroyers of habitat.

Bullfinches love the pips and seeds of soft fruit like cherries, elderberries and rose hips.

In winter they pick off a great many buds as this one is doing. Also, like any of the finch tribe they have a great love of seeds of a wide variety of grasses,shrubs,trees and wild flowers.

Conversely, in summer they feed their chicks on insects, as do so many seed eating birds.

When I was photographing this one and his two pals, a lady dog walker came along.

She told me she walked that route regularly and “never sees a thing”.

This is not unusual among people these days. Any birder will tell you most bullfinches they find are initially heard, the ears then leading the eyes to these secretive birds.

Sadly most folk are just not tuned in to the sounds all around them as they walk.

Slow down, keep your eyes open, and above all, listen.

As you would guess, the bullie has a low, deep, yet soft voice.

Learn to recognise it and you will be rewarded with stunning sights such as this.

I’m sure you agree, the effort is well worth it!