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A fairly common but elusive species of woodland and hedgerows

Photograph by: 
Ian Ballam

The goldcrest is a resident breeding species in Dorset and it occurs, too, right across northern Europe in Scandinavia, Poland and Russia. Being such a small bird it is very susceptible to cold weather and those northern European birds head south and west in winter and despite being so tiny they cover incredible distances and many come to Britain. If the weather turns very cold here they, and our resident birds, will head off across the Channel in search of warmer climes but this species suffers large population declines in cold weather. 

As a resident species you would expect the goldcrest to be reported all year round but this is not the case . The weekly reports chart shows hardly any records from week 16 to week 30 which would imply that there are no goldcrest here during May, June or July and this clearly is not the case. These months, of course, are the prime breeding time here in Dorset and the goldcrest is associated with conifer and yew. They do nest in gardens where there are evergreens but in general one has to look in plantations and churchyards to find them and these are not regularly watched sites so I believe that is why they seem so scarce in summer. Obviously the winter influx has a significant bearing on the number of reports and there are most records from week 40 in October through until the following spring when by week 14 in April numbers are tailing off.

Goldcrest are widely distributed throughout the county as the map shows but there is tendency to them to be seen along the more watched coastal sites as well as from the heathland areas of the Poole Basin and East Dorset where there are considerable amounts of conifer plantation. The most records come from ringing stations and Portland Bird Observatory report more goldcrest than most sites but anywhere on Portland in winter is likely to produce reports as well.

Not uncommon but sometimes elusive the best way to find goldcrest is to visit a coniferous woodland in spring and listen for its thin, repetitiveundulating song; once heard never forgotten.



Common Name Goldcrest
Scientific Name Regulus regulus
Species Group Birds Titmice and Wrens
Status Occasional
Interest Level
  • 01 - January
  • 02 - February
  • 03 - March
  • 04 - April
  • 05 - May
  • 06 - June
  • 07 - July
  • 08 - August
  • 09 - September
  • 10 - October
  • 11 - November
  • 12 - December
Look for

Tiny bird flitting around in bushes, often conifers

Identification Notes
  • Does visit gardens in winter
  • Check for firecrest
  • Has a thin but attractive undulating song
Primary Habitat
Preferred Environment
Look for
Additional Identification Notes
Similar Species

The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Notebook Distribution Map Sites List Some Charts Some Photographs Recent Records Guidance Notes

To see related species click here: 

Birds Titmice and Wrens