While watching goldfinches enjoying sunflower hearts on my feeders, I am thinking how very fortunate we are to have a range of colourful birds in Britain.

Obviously, compared with those in tropical rain forests our species are smaller and less exotic but nevertheless we have some real beauties to admire.

One such example is our kingfisher, often seen as an electric blue streak speeding just above the surface of a stream.

The plumage of our three woodpeckers is quite striking while bullfinch, chaffinch and exquisite goldcrest, our tiniest bird are stunning too.

My favourite bird the swallow sports glossy blue white and red plumage (pictured) resembling an airborne Union Jack and to my mind would win any avian x-factor competition.

Sadly, the recent garden bird watch recorded far fewer numbers this year, most notably blue and great tits, both of which have declined, being normally two of our most abundant birds.

It is thought that the reason for this may be linked to the fact that this spring was the fifth warmest in a hundred years.

As a result, caterpillars, which form the basis of food fed to fledglings, hatched too early and had pupated before the young birds were ready, so many nestlings died as the whole process was out of sync.

Let us hope that next spring will be normal and the hatching of caterpillars coincided with the birth of the chicks.