Saturday 11 April 2020

Garden punctuation

How can I sum up the last few days? I know, dull. Yes, quite dull. Many many hours looking at a largely empty sky. Such is the reality of lockdown listing I suppose, especially in an urban setting. No sea, no river, just rooftops and sky. It's a bit like a quiet sea watch now that I think about it. Hours and hours of nothing, but always a chance. They do say never to leave a good seawatch, but equally it is often clear when you are on a hiding to nothing. Those are the days when by 8am you know the game is up, and start wondering what other birdy activity might be in the offing.

Under lockdown however..... So, blank days punctuated by brief highlights. One highlight has been Rook. Under normal circumstances Rook is a hard bird to get in Wanstead - a more rural species. It probably goes down as annual, but I certainly don't get one every year. Up until last week my count in Wanstead, ever, was six birds in sixteen years. Six, including one over the garden way back in 2009. Locked down, eyes to the sky, I've seen seven in the last seven days. Seven!! 

I have this thing that I do on my bird lists. If I have only ever seen one of something I put it in italics. Until recently Rook was in italics. So was Little Egret and so was Short-eared OwlI've been doing the early shift from the balcony, usually from around half six to about half eight when I have to get ready for work. It has been extremely productive - in the last couple of weeks I've seen two more Little Egret and another SEO. If I am cooped up here for much longer soon there won't be anything left in italics at all.

As if this were not enough though, I really upped my game last week with my first ever Raven. The number of sightings in London has been increasing, but it wasn't really on my radar as a patch tick. I say patch, what I really mean is somewhere over near Stratford, but "on or from" has always been the name of the game, and being in lockdown means that 'from' becomes a lot more likely. I was wandering around the loft room, or the Obs as it is now known, when through binoculars I saw two distant specks. A large bird being mobbed by a smaller one. A Buzzard being hassled by a Crow probably, but in these times you check everything. Through the scope they were both corvids....errr.  A Jackdaw after a Crow, or.....oh good grief look at that tail on the bigger one. A whacking great diamond - and the other bird was definitely a Crow. I watched the spectacle for a short while to be sure, but before I could get a gripping photo the birds descended below my horizon. Incredible, although it does unfortunately go down in italics....

A propos of nothing at all, here is a Collared Dove


  1. Aah, didn't you say something like "I'd give my eye teeth to see Raven over here" just a few weeks back? Happy days!!!

    1. If I did I can't remember! It's a species I'd like to see at Rainham as well.