Yesterday my garden was visited by a group of seven Yellowhammers. I have often had the odd bird coming to pick up the droppings from the feeders, particularly in the harsh cold times. But to have seven in one go at this time of year was unusual to say the least.
Why this should happen in April is not clear to me. If it
were winter, then I might expect to find Yellowhammers in mixed flocks of
finches and buntings. But if you walk the local back roads or fields now, you
are much more likely to come across a singing male every two or three hundred
The other element that surprised me was the variation in
plumage colouring of the group of seven. If my analysis is correct, then the
group had two males in it. Judging by the difference between these two birds, I
would almost be tempted to say that one was a season or two younger than the
other. The other birds I think were all female, but even these had variations
in the depth of yellow displayed.
Interestingly, the bird shown below is one I
came across in Thixendale today. It was one of three males whose territories, I
think, were within a couple of hundred feet of hedgerow. Each was as vivid as
the one shown. Could it be that competition between males makes the plumage more