Friday 3 February 2017

Big Garden Bullfinch

I did this year's Big Garden Birdwatch in Fife instead on Wanstead. All that time I had spent tempting birds to my London garden with squirrel-defeating feeders has been in numerical vain. So as soon as I got here I sorted out my parents' feeding station - two new feeders and fresh food - hoping to recreate the birding bonanza of back home. It has been a remarkable success, although I can't tell you what amazing bird made a special guest appearance for the count, you'll have to remain in suspense.

The feeders are outside the study window, and there are now a couple more at various other vantage points - peanuts visible from the window seat in the kitchen, from my Mum's greenhouse, and from the sofas in the front room where my Dad is currently frequently to be found. This is all a cunning plan to get the aged relatives interested in what's around them, and in the process make me appear less weird. Today this plan worked brilliantly, or at least it didn't fail spectacularly. You take what you can get with my frowned-upon hobbies around here.

So, the count starts. No cheating, you begin at a designated time for these counts. Mine started at 1.21pm when a stunning male Bullfinch landed on a bush outside the living room window. Wowzers! I passed my Dad my bins and he got a good look too. I don't mean to sound too optimistic but I think he was quite impressed. His usual diet is Blue Tits and Great Tits, and I'm not sure he recognises any difference between them. This was, he stated, huge! And bright red helps too of course. I was amazed, I mean I know there are more Bullfinches here than back home, and I know exactly where to go to see them in Fife, but I never expected one in the garden, ten feet from the front door. I grabbed a record shot and then got down to the serious business of counting. Here's the list.

Bullfinch, 3 Great Tit, 5 Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Dunnock, Wren, Robin, 2 Blackbird, 4 House Sparrow, Magpie, 3 Woodpigeon, 2 Collared Dove, heard-only Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Rook, Jackdaw and Herring Gull. The Chaffinches and Song Thrush which I know live here did not deign to pay a visit, but nonetheless this is a decent count, and the Bullfinch is a new garden bird here. And a year tick to boot.


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