Well thanks a lot Coronavirus.
As the lockdown progresses and more and more birders are stuck at home with nothing to do, the internet has become a hive of garden-listing activity under the hashtag of #BWKM0. Bird Watching Kilometre Zero, as opposed to the 5KM radius or similar. The bird information services have been getting into the spirit too, and rather than publishing news of rarities, instead garden firsts up and down the land are being shared and celebrated. Cormorants. Greylags. Rooks. This is what is all about, and of course I could not resist.
I started on Monday, the first official day of lockdown. I'm working from home and am more or less constantly on the phone during these troubled times. I have always been a bit of a pacer, even in the office, and so I find myself walking from window to window and having a look at what is outside. My step counter says I have walked nearly a mile each day, mostly in very small circles.
Chateau L underwent some battlement renovations a couple of years ago and the whole of the roof space is now a large room with fantastic views to the south-west and north-east. If I stick my head out of the windows or stand on the balcony I can also look due north and south. The only blind spots are those created by the other houses in the terrace and I can still see over their roofs, in fact I reckon I can see very nearly the full 360 degrees of the horizon with a little bit of effort. The best views are to the south-west where there is an unimpeded view of sky, and this is where most of my sightings come from.
Large patches of sky are critical for any decent garden list. Were my list restricted to what I saw actually in the garden, it would be something like 30. As it is over the years it has risen to 83 through sporadic sessions and lucky breaks. I've lived here for 16 years so this isn't very impressive, but I have high hopes for what the lockdown of eight hours a day seven days a week may bring, especially at this time of year. I've already had only my second ever Little Egret, spotted yesterday to the north-east as I was on a call about the upcoming changes to central counterparty regulations. There have also been four Red Kites through, double figures of Buzzards, and also yesterday a very jammy three Fieldfare - a bird I had not managed to see all winter even out on Wanstead Flats.
So there is now a little competition amongst the east London birders, with a sub-division for the local Wanstead patchlisters. This is the kind of thing that helps in these crazy times, that promotes solidarity, interaction and a sense of society, and I'm delighted to be involved, even if it does mean keeping a list again. I've started a new tab (up at the top of this page if on a computer) to keep track of what I've seen, which is now 43, and there are a few gimmes still missing. I wonder if there is still time to squeeze in a late Redwing? I've had quite a few sightings into early April so I would expect so. Might require some nocmig....