A garden bird list is a reasonable antidote to those days when you are stuck indoors or have to work at home. My rules are simple. I have 2 categories: landed in garden or flyover. If I can see or hear it from the house or garden, it’s on the list.
Over the past three winters, I have been nurturing an ever increasing flock of Redpolls, focused around a couple of nyger seed feeders. They twitter away all day long outside the window. At peak, 35-40 are around at once. As usual, there is an interesting array of plumage variation. Most, of course, are Lesser Redpolls, but if you take the following to be characteristics of Mealy Redpoll: grey-brown upperparts, greyer head with whitish nape collar and ‘bulging’ neck, strong white wingbars, a pale streaked rump on a white background which bleeds white into the surrounding flanks and lower back, whitish underparts and undertail coverts (some with arrow-shaped dark centres) and a long primary projection, then I have a few that fit the bill.
Unfortunately, my garden is rather dull. Redpolls are by far the commonest bird. However, if I lean out of the upstairs window on one leg and view sideways between two distant houses, I can see a sliver of the village pond. Recently, I noticed an Egyptian Goose on the pond as I drove home. A skid onto the drive and a quick run upstairs, followed by nearly one hour on one leg peering sideways and it swam across the sliver of view. Result. The problem is that the occupants of one of the above mentioned houses has an increasingly large Yucca tree growing in the crucial gap and the sliver of view is declining year on year. A midnight raid with a bowsaw has been considered, but the more obvious answer is to move. So sadly, we are leaving our glorious view over Epping Forest in the Land of Spray tan and Bling and heading to pastures new. With this momentous decision made, I got another new garden bird: a Heron came and ate all my frogs.