August 1st – One of the less obvious food sources for smaller birds like goldfinches are the wind-borne seeds of dandelions, ragwort, thistle and here, rosebay willowherb. Growing like buddleia in any urban setting where there’s a scrap of extractable nutrition, this prolific weed has gorgeous pink flowers and produces huge amounts of fluff, containing its seeds.
Small birds will spend ages on seedbeds picking out the tiny black seeds and gorging upon them. It’s fascinating to watch, and these are an excellent source of nutrition.
Everything has a purpose in nature.
August 27th – I noted recently that rosebay willow herb is called ‘old man’s beard’ due to the white, fluffy, wind-borne seeds it spawns at this time of year. Another prolific source of the familiar ‘fairies’ that float on the breeze are thistles, also plants of the margins and hinterlands. Gorgeous at the moment in their downy decadence, they are a food source for small birds like finches, and also for any passing donkeys, who love thistles with a passion.