Monday, 19 June 2017

Egretta gardenetta

Yesterday was very pleasant indeed in London. I made the most of it by doing very little – some mild gardening in the morning, more on which later, and then some heavy sitting in the afternoon whilst listening to the Champion’s Trophy final between India and Pakistan. During this latter period a long-awaited event occurred - a Little Egret entered into my airspace and thus found itself on my garden list. In keeping with many if not all garden lists, the area in question is of course far larger than just my garden. The list would be a fraction of the size were it restricted to species actually IN my garden, a quick mental tot up suggests that it would be no more than about 25. So you also have to look UP and count stuff that flies over. And because it would be virtually impossible to judge straight line extending vertically upwards from your fence lines, the only practical suggestion is to simply count everything that you can see in any direction. Some people take this to mean standing on their roof scoping a distant reservoir, but here at Chateau L the worst that generally ever happens is standing on the very edge of my drive listening for Warblers on Wanstead Flats. Oh yes, heard only is just fine. Coots in the still of the night on a distant local pond? Fair game.

Anyhow, as I was on the phone to Mick S discussing in some detail the merits of Iceland as a photographic destination, a Little Egret flew roughly north-west through my field of view, thus gaining the distinction of becoming #82, a mere 4 years after #81. My camera was indoors so there is no photographic proof, however if you grilled Mick on the slight change in direction of our conversation that occurred he would quickly confirm that there could be no possibility of this having been anything other than a full-fat garden tick. I basically lost the plot. Red-throated Divers were forgotten, and instead there was excited jubilation and accompanying bad language.

It has been a long time coming, the proximity of the Walthamstow Reservoirs (which I can’t see from my roof) means that birds must go over relatively frequently, and it is just a question of being at home to see it. And of course I am not all that frequently at home….. I have come close before on two occasions. Once on the school run when one flew over the car not long after we had left the house, and then a bird over Long Wood heading towards where I live. That second bird would almost certainly have been visible from my garden had it continued its trajectory, as would the Stone Curlew that headed off north a few springs ago, but that’s a stretch really. No, I have to content myself with ones I am actually home to see do it.

Little Egret was actually my top prediction for my next garden tick, and now that it has fallen that honour now sits with Nuthatch. These have undergone a local resurgence of late, are known to be nearby, and are also quite vocal. I’m hoping one will visit my peanut feeder one day, although that would require prizing off the Ring-necked Parakeet that is currently nailed to it.

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