Members questions and views

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A. FROM PAUL: The question asked now has one answer, though I fear it is a problem everywhere.
It poses another question. Will no feeding the birds all winter mean many die of hunger?

Q. FROM SALLY MacEACHERN, 20TH OCTOBER: We noticed both green finches and goldfinches suffering from trich (we thought) in our garden (Orchard Way) in late August/early September. Our neighbours also reported finding dead birds. 

We consulted the BTO website and immediately stopped feeding and emptied our bird bath. We have not noticed any birds with problems since coming back from holiday in September but then again, we have far fewer birds in the garden now.

Q. FROM JAKE: This has been a bumper season for Goldfinches, and my feeders have had lots of juveniles feeding on both nyjer seed and sunflower hearts. In the last ten days or so, I have seen five juveniles perched on feeders exhibiting all the signs of trich or some similar: puffed-out feather, eyelids half-closed, beak stuffed with seeds that they seemed to be unable to swallow. I could approach them to within a few inches and they didn't move. In addition I have found three dead juvenile Goldfinches showing no signs of trauma but each one was emaciated. The only other species that has shown similar symptoms was an adult House Sparrow, which flew off quite vigorously when I approached it.

I am writing this to see if mine is an isolated case, or whether others made similar observations at feeding stations. In any case, I will stop all feeding for two weeks as a precautionary measure (as was recommended during the Greenfinch outbreaks).

Any comments gratefully received.
Q. Dear Paul,
I have just become a member of the Conservation Society as I have recently moved to Haddenham. Although this is not a very clear photo (taken on my old mobile) I wonder if you might be able to say if this is a Small Heath which had settled on the ground? Later another joined it and they flew around each other as I walked down the track from Bury Lane, Haddenham this morning in the warm sunshine. Also spotted was a young grass snake swimming in the ditch that has recently been dug out and which runs alongside the track, together with a small fish which I couldn't identify. Next time I will remember to take with me my digital camera! Lots of owl screeching last night, must have been those shooting stars that got them going!
Many thanks, Denise Chappell 

A. Yes, it is a Small Heath. PM