WHILE watching a flurry of garden birds jostling for a place at the bird table, I heard a thud at the window, writes David Carnduff.
On investigation, I found a dazed treecreeper — a small, delicate woodland species — looking very sorry for itself on the sill.
Just what had made this little sprite take a headlong strike against the window was unclear. Hits like this are often the result of birds scattering in a panic when a sparrowhawk makes a menacing appearance, but I could see no sign of any raptor.
It was unaware of me peering at it through the glass, I was able to study the details of the delicate bird in close-up. As its name suggests, the species is perfectly designed to scuttle up tree trunks, probing for spiders and insects with its needle-thin curved beak.
Its tail is shaped to give it support while foraging, and long, gripping, claws enable it to manoeuvre upwards with ease. The plumage is mottled brown above and white below.
After around 15 minutes, the casualty perked up and flew off, leaving me wondering why it was in my garden in the first place as it is normally a bird of nature woodland.
Harsh winters often take their toll on small birds such as treecreepers, especially when snow and ice makes finding food a challenge. However, I was interested to read recently that ornithologists had caught and examined a treecreeper that was six-and-a-half-years-old, making it the oldest known of the species in Scotland.
They knew this by the light-weight, numbered ring placed on its leg in a Glasgow park back in May 2015.
Although Inverclyde has its own treecreeper population, they can be a bit difficult to spot, especially as their brown mottled plumage provides good camouflage against tree trunks.
The best way to spot them is to stand still and watch for them alighting low on a tree. They will then work their way up and around the trunk, probing behind bark where insects may be hiding. When they reach the top they will fly to another tree and start again.