Thursday, 20 October 2011

Finchtastic

I had intended not to blog today, but I have news. I was going to give you all a break, but I cannot help myself. I don't honestly don't believe in daily posting for the sake of it, as I'm sure you all know. Though how would you tell.....

Anyway, I have important news. Happy news. Played for and got news. The best kind of news really. I recently moaned, uncharacteristically, about not being able to get out on the patch for proper birding. This remains true, but I realised that there was an alternative, which was to engage in a spot of viz-migging from the garden. This is where you get up really early, stand getting really cold in the half-light, and neither see nor hear birds. Winner. That said, this is how I got Waxwing on the garden list last year. That was a fluke of course, but my thinking today was that there are a lot of finches about, including Crossbills...

It started slowly, as it always does. My warming mug of tea a distant memory, it took forty-five minutes for the first migrating birds to make it onto the list - some distant and invisible Redpolls. Things picked up at around half seven when I started to get decent numbers of Greenfinch and Chaffinch, as well as a rare Pied Wagtail. But the real played for and got birds appeared just before eight. Eight, possibly nine Crossbills flying north-east. Calling, and calling loudly. OMG.

Now it's all too easy when viz-migging to "hear" a bird you need for your some list or other, and Crossbill is not a bird I hear often. But there was no doubt - I had been listening to Crossbill calls on my phone only half an hour earlier. What surprised me was how loud they were. They probably passed over about six or eight houses down, but the calls positively rang out. The whole experience lasted about fifteen seconds, as the loose flock appeared over the big trees and then disappeared over the houses. Fifteen seconds, but still sensational. What I particularly enjoyed was the planning element. Just the inkling that I could strike lucky, and that tiny tiny thought meant I was there, and ready. I can't wait for tomorrow.

Crossbill is a patch tick, and the best place to get patch ticks from is of course from the garden. On the offchance that anyone is interested in the numbers, I feel it is my solemn duty as a birding dullard to lay them out. Here and now, you cannot escape. It is bird #126 for the patch, bird #76 for the garden, and bird #109 for the patch yearlist, which is of extra significance as my patch record is 108, achieved last year with a Treecreeper. There are still quite a few possibilities as well - Goosander, Goldeneye and Ruddy Duck, or perhaps winter Geese. Or Nuthatch, Brambling, Siberian Rubythroat, Firecrest....

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