Well well well. In 2019 during the same period I made 12 patch visits. One fewer than over lockdown! How is that possible you may ask, and I wondered the same thing. And then I realised....during the same period in 2019 I was actually away for nearly a quarter of the time - a family holiday to Cyprus and then an amazing birding expedition to the Texas coast. It is a similar story in 2018 and 2017, so even trying to compare myself to myself is a futile exercise. So what do the numbers say?
I cannot be bothered to try and work out how many species I saw locally in a specific period in prior years. I like lists as much as the next person but that is simply a level of detail too many. It would be simpler to see how many species I have seen locally to date. This year it is 96, the latest being a Common Sandpiper at the weekend. I was actually quite surprised it was as many as that, but I suppose I have twitched a number of local migrants like Ring Ouzel and Redstart and so on. So how does that compare to prior years up to May 11th?
So I have seen four more birds locally this year than last year, the same number as in 2018, and two fewer than in 2017. Would you call that par? I think I would. Which makes sense when you think about it. The garden has contributed perhaps two unexpected species, Common Scoter as extensively discussed, and then Raven which I could not have seen from ground level out on the patch. I also recorded Whimbrel but subsequently saw some as well on the Flats, and you would have to say that the Short-eared Owl I got from the balcony I would also have got from the patch. So whilst I may have submitted 39 garden lists in 2020 (vs zero in 2019) their actual impact has been fairly limited. Exciting from a specific location point of view but largely exactly the same species as any visit to the patch would net me.
So what happens next? Will my self control go completely to pieces and I'll hit the patch daily from now on, or will I sort it out and continue to be pretty sensible? Well luckily for all concerned June is nearly upon us, and whether in a state of lockdown (or whatever the latest Government proclamation actually means) or complete normality I know for a fact that my patch visits die a death in June. And indeed the entire summer. In 2019 I made one visit to the patch between June and mid-August! One! Now that's what I call social distancing!