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Where to find the UK's smallest bird

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Posted: Thursday 14th June 2018 by Bernwood Project

GoldcrestGoldcrest by Margaret Holland

Finemere Wood is bursting with life: grasses, shrubs and trees are growing at an astonishing rate; flowers bloom, a new floral joy for every visit; butterflies and bees are bountiful and birdsong tells of extensive avian populations.

Charlotte KarmaliWritten by Charlotte Karmali

Volunteer Warden at Finemere Wood, Bucks



Rising before dawn, one May morning, I joined a group of bleary eyed bird enthusiasts to listen to the dawn chorus. Our knowledgeable guides led us slowly around the wood, patiently helping us to tune in to the birds. This is not an easy task for the untrained ear amidst a cacophony of birdsong.


The goldcrest (Regulus regulus): The UK’s smallest bird, measuring just 9cm long, is smaller even than a wren; a dull olive green with a conspicuous, black-bordered “gold” crest stripe on its crown, this crest is orange in males and yellow in females; its thin beak, ideal for picking insects and spiders out from between pine needles. Common and widespread across the country, it can be seen throughout the year, there being both resident and migrant populations.



This tiny bird is energetic and nests at the top of tall, mature coniferous trees. Vast numbers of conifers were planted at Finemere Wood by the Forestry Commission in the 1960s. Many of them have been removed to allow this ancient woodland to regenerate. But small patches remain to provide this important habitat for the goldcrest in particular.

I have never seen one of these birds in Finemere Wood. Difficult to spot amongst the tree tops, its song is often all you have to go on. A call so high pitched, many cannot hear it, but to my delight I managed to pick it out and was thrilled to realise that the goldcrest population is thriving here.

The goldcrest was just one of 20 species of bird we heard singing that morning. With a dense woodland canopy where birds are hard to spot, being able to recognise birdsong opens up a whole new world of discovery. It was fantastic to hear that such a variety of birds take up residence here in this magnificent wood.

The Finemere Wood volunteers, meanwhile, soldier on. It is the time of year for cutting grassy areas and clearing pathways. Brushcutters, scythes and rakes are out in force as we try to keep the wood accessible to visitors. It is a never ending task, but so long as I feed them cake, I rarely hear a complaint from the group!

Finemere Wood volunteers

Come and join us in this biodiverse haven

  • Contact Charlotte at charlottekarmali@outlook.com to join the Finemere Wood volunteer group.
  • Next volunteer group date: Thursday 28 June, Thursday 12 July, Thursday 26 July, 9.30am-3pm.
  • The Calvert Jubilee volunteer group meets on the third Thursday of the month. Contact Clive at omgitsclive@gmail.com or on 07917 007055 for further information. 
  • Have you visited Finemere Wood? Share your photos with us on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Sign up to our e-newsletter to stay up-to-date with all our news and tips on how to help local wildlife.

Read Bernwood Project's latest blog entries.