So many species are suffering serious existential threats that it’s nice to hear success stories. Goldfinch numbers are rising, and these colourful, busy birds can be seen all over Otley, usually in a gang. The collective noun is appropriately a “charm”. Nests are built entirely by the females, often at the end of a swaying branch, to which the twigs are attached with spider silk. Nest design is relatively deep to prevent eggs being lost in windy weather. Poet Patrick Kavanagh describes the goldfinch as a rare glimpse of beauty in the life of an elderly Irish farmer:
The goldfinches on the railway paling were worth looking at
A man might imagine then
Himself in Brazil and these birds the birds of paradise
Incidentally, one of the RSPB’s first campaigns was against the caged Goldfinch trade.