Friday, 27 March 2020

Close to Home

I've never been a garden lister. I can tell you some of the smart birds we've had in/from our various gardens over the years, but I can't tell you numbers. Not even roughly. It's never interested me. However, this lockdown lark has prompted me to join in with Steve Gales's #BWKM0 Garden Birdwatching Challenge. I can't be involved in a competitive way (you need a current garden list for that) but certainly in spirit. So, how's it going?

Pretty slowly if I'm honest. Having lived here for five years I already know we don't reside beneath some birdy M1. If there is a flight line above us it is one of the migrant map's 'unclassified' roads. Skywatching from the garden is akin to the seawatch of death. You know the kind. You sit there, willing it to happen, just another 15 minutes, and another, and another...oh okay, ten more minutes, tops... And before you know it, hours of nothing have passed. Still, I did get a fly-by garden tick on Wednesday. Little Egret. Not a surprise really, because the River Asker runs just to the east of us, a regular haunt of at least one individual. Three Red Kites on Monday were delightful of course, plus I've had Raven most days, and Sparrowhawk a couple of times. But invariably, when the local Herring Gulls go off, it'll be a Buzzard or three.

Our garden is tiny, and extremely unattractive to birds, but at least we have one. I feel for birders stuck in garden-less appartments. After all, I can sit outside...

Mind you, there's been much less sitting than I'd like. Being at home all the time is a fine way to spot the myriad jobs which need doing. Or have them spotted for you. Which is a right nuisance. Today's #BWKM0 tick came during a tea-break. Jay. It takes my total to 30 species.

Being stuck at home is never good for me. I am well aware of this fact, and have struggled to keep the stir-craziness in check. Last night I finally cracked, and decided to take advantage of the 'exercise' concession this morning. I set the alarm and was out pretty early. In my whole circuit I encountered just six other people, all dog walkers. I met the local Little Egret, and was probably its first human of the day. It flew up from the river and perched rather obligingly in a nearby tree...

Little Egret, waiting for me to pass so it can get on with breakfast. Probably wondering why I have no dog.

On some high ground I came across a flock of 50+ Fieldfares, which was a surprise...

Fieldfares. Standard views.

And returning home I spotted something bobbing about in the long grass up ahead of me on the path. I was absolutely delighted to discover that it was a Stoat, the first I've seen in years. And the first I've got any kind of photo of...

Stoat - the only photo I managed

Other highlights were 16 singing Chiffs, my first 2 singing Blackcaps of the year, a Yellowhammer, and nice views of a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

It was nice to get out for a walk, and I shall certainly do it again, but probably not every day.

In the spirit of making the most of the situation, I photographed a bee yesterday. We have three pots of rosemary, and their abundant flowers attract the odd bee now and then. Tentatively we identified this one as a female Hairy-footed Flower Bee, so I was delighted to have this ID confirmed by a helpful chap on Twitter this evening...

Hairy-footed Flower Bee (female)

So that's it. The bee list is off and running...


  1. Get the bike out Gav, if the back roads where you are are as quiet as they are here it's bliss& I don't know if I'm imagining it but birds seem to be tamer(?)

  2. Gav, I agree with Derek. Surely the bike has to be dusted down?

  3. Derek, Ric, think I might just do that. I suspect the lanes will be empty.

  4. Gav, you will be correct. On my last few excursions, the streets resemble those of fifty years ago on a Sunday afternoon.

  5. Its a lovely day for an Orbit....

    1. The Orbit is languishing on a turbo-trainer. It is not happy...