Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Common Firecrest (Regulus ignicapilla)

OTHER NAMES: Firecrest
Latin Etymology: Regulus ("Kinglet/Prince") ignicapilla ("fire-capped")
Adult Common Firecrest (subspecies R. i. ignicapilla) at Birchington-on-Sea Railway Station - February 2014

Featured Subspecies: Regulus ignicapilla ignicapilla
Weight: 4-7g  /  Length: 9cm  /  Wingspan: 13-16cm
UK AMBER LIST /IUCN Red List: Least Concern

The Firecrest is most immediately notable for sharing the title of smallest bird in Britain with its close relative, the Common Goldcrest - they are incredibly tiny birds being only 9cm long and weighing about as much as a ten pence piece.  However, hey are far harder to locate in the UK that Goldcrests, which can be found in suitable habitat across the full length of the British mainland, the Firecrest reaches the Northern-most extremity of its entire range in the South-East of England, making it far more localised. They are very distinctive little birds when you get a good look at them, with the prominent white eye-stripes being the feature which most easily separates them from their commoner cousin.  This particular individual was come across entirely by accident - after an afternoon walking from Herne Bay to Birchington-on-Sea with not many interesting sightings to show for it, I was waiting on the train platform with ten minutes before the train was due to to take me back to London, when I heard an interesting call from the trees on the opposite platform, which turned out to be this Firecrest.  It was actually showing very well, but the low light as dusk rolled in and the kinglet habit of flicking in and out of leaves at high speed left this photo as the only one where it was visible before I had to scuttle back over the bridge to catch my train.

As a side note, this is the first photo in thus blog since it began where I used a flash on my camera to capture the species.

Related Species:
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Regulidae
Genus: Regulus
Subspecies: R. i. ignicapilla, R. i. caucasicus, R. i. tauricus, R. i. balearica, R. i. madeirensis

- Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM - Scarce breeding resident (about 550 territories)
 - A single bird seen at Birchington-on-Sea Railway Station in February 2014

Further Notes: BirdForum OpusIUCN Red ListRSPBWikipedia, Xeno-canto

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