With regards to Goldfinches, there are regularly a dozen or more on the feeders in my garden, where they enjoy both sunflower hearts and nyger seed, the latter coming from either knapweed or thistles I believe. Until recently there were also up to 30 Greenfinches but numbers have fallen to around a fifth of that number in the past few weeks. Some are showing signs of having caught Trichomonosis gallinae, a usually fatal disease that has been sweeping the country during the past couple of years, reducing the population by around a third in many areas. It is not a pleasant sight to see them suffering as they totter about beneath the feeders, fluffed out and sleepy eyed, while a couple of infected birds in my garden have subsequently been found dead. The disease affects the upper digestive tract (oral cavity, oesophagus and crop) causing a cheese-like inflammotory debris to build up in infected areas. It is more commonly found in pigeons, where it is known as canker, and one theory put forward to explain its spread to Greenfinches is that increasing numbers of Wood Pigeons are now visiting surburban gardens. No one knows for sure though. Chaffinches are also known to be affected but not so severely.
On a more cheerful note, one species you should look out for in suburban gardens at the moment is the Waxwing as large numbers have arrived in this country this winter from Scandinavia. They seem to shun more rural areas (or at least they seem to shun me!) and have a habit of turning up in retail parks or supermarket car parks, Morrisons at Maldon, Sainsburys at Pitsea and Tescoes at Southend being recent examples. The attraction is the berries on the cotoneasters that are often planted at such sites. So next time you do your weekly shop look out for them; with their chocolate colouration, prominent crest, red and yellow tipped wings and yellow tipped tail they are unmiistakeable.
One of my new year resolutions was to become a better gardener and that's where I was today. Even in January there is usually something of interest to see. This morning that included 3 Redwings feeding on the last holly berries in a neighbour's garden. Also two delicate looking fungi at the base of my log pile, the discovery of which led to a pleasant hour with Funga Nordica this afternoon. They keyed out as Snapping Bonnet Mycena vitilis, a reasonably common species which I have found in several sites but these were the first for my garden.