Who knew that today would bring a mega? Certainly not me. After consuming most of a bottle of wine last night, I was somehow unable to get up this morning and smash the patch. By about 10am I had managed to get dressed, and after two cups of tea was feeling sufficiently perky to venture outside. Only as far as the garden you understand, so no great feat, but I had to sit in a chair immediately.
I've said before that the best type of ticks, bar none, are garden ticks. Some people call them house ticks, it's all the same thing. Either the bird has to be within my* property boundaries, or I do - the bird can be outside those boundaries provided I am within them. One foot on my front drive was all that was required for a garden Whitethroat earlier this year, as I am sure I blathered on about.
Anyway, back to this morning. There I was supping tea in the sunshine (going back to work is going to be really tough) when a small bird flitted across a gap two gardens to my right. The next moment it was in next door's garden. Facing away from me I wondered whether it was some kind of Chat, and then it turned, flicked up into a conifer, and revealed itself to be a glorious Spotted Flycatcher. The first in over six years, and possibly the last for another six years. Happily my camera was at hand to record the moment, and two of the kids saw it too (the third declared no interest).
So, a self-found mega. I cannot tell you how pleased this makes me. Absurdly pleased. Stupidly pleased. Huge smile that cannot be wiped off pleased. And all for a humble Spotted Flycatcher, a bird that used to be a garden bird, and wouldn't have merited a second glance only a few years ago. Their decline, as I understand it, has been catastrophic. I always thought I might get one. At this time of year you are more or less guaranteed to get several birds on Wanstead Flats, which is only a short distance away. Why would they all pitch down there, and none in the adjacent gardens? Must have been a decent day for migrants though, as in addition to this joyful patch tick, #75, a male Blackcap and a Chiffchaff (the number of which I have had in the garden I can count on one hand) were also moving through. The Spottie stayed faithful to the gardens for about half an hour, and then, along with all the other small birds, vanished, not to be seen again. Awesome.
* the bank's