Saturday, 11 December 2010

A million to one?

I've been outside twice today. The first time, I went shopping, buying, amongst other things, toilet paper and a Christmas Tree (don't get them the wrong way around, whatever you do). It was a boring trip, and despite having an emergency pair of bins in my pocket, there were no vast flocks of Waxwings at Tesco or Homebase.

The second time, I was on the terrace, waving the table cloth around to get the crumbs, dried pasta, cereal, carrot peel, glitter, pencil shavings, satsuma pith and assorted child detritus off it. I had no bins, it was a thirty second job. As I was nearing completeness, and beginning to fold the table cloth up, a smallish darkish duck flew over to the east of the garden. It felt very much like a Teal, and I decided to call it one, though this is in no way related to the fact that I need Teal as a garden tick. I texted out this happy news to a select few and was then assailed by doubt. I had seen no plumage detail, and though it had seemed small, a lone duck in an empty sky does not lend itself easily to judging size. Ah, what the hell, it's only the garden list, on it goes. Then I thought that I couldn't possibly add it. But I had texted! Gah!

And then an amazing thing happened. I had a text from Nick, asking if it had been going east. Kind of, I replied, as it had seemed to be following the line of Lake House Road, which runs south-west to north-east.  My phone bonged again; he had just had a Teal come over from the west. I phoned him immediately to find out where he was - critical. He was at Shoulder of Mutton pond in the Park, and a Teal had just come over him from the west, and continued on towards the Heronry pond. Shoulder of Mutton pond is the closest one to me, and lies almost due east of my house - you could plot the line the bird had taken.

So what were the chances? Despite the post title, I'm thinking gazillions to one. I was on the terrace for all of about a minute. Most of that time I was flicking small pieces of encrusted stuff off a table cloth. Towards the end of my minute, I glanced up at the sky to my left, and clocked a duck. "Teal!" I guessed thought. At that very moment, Nick was in the Park headed homewards, and perhaps a minute later also happened to glance up at some sky where he too clocked the same duck, though he had bins. "Teal!" he thought. Or perhaps shouted out loud, who knows?! I should start playing the lottery.

I had very low expectations for this weekend. Mrs L is away, selfishly pursuing her own hobbies, whatever they are - I'm sure she told me. I've done no birding, and have no birding planned. So to get a garden tick amidst the domesticity, and in the only ten seconds that I spent looking is amazing. And to have that tick more or less confirmed by a fellow birder who just happened to be standing on the exact flight path a moment later, well, that's even more amazing. In case you're not fully clear, I'm amazed. A Teal has made my day. Now you're amazed, right?


  1. Jonnyboy,

    I am worried about you, you haven't posted in 5 days. Did you get a job or something?

  2. No, someone stole the main phone cable for the copper.