15th February 2021 – an addition to my suburban garden bird-list

I blame Stephen Moss – writer, birder and all round nice guy – for getting me started on compiling a garden bird-list. After reading his latest garden bird in the Somerset Levels, I sat down with a cuppa one morning to remember everything we’d ever seen in our five by six metre suburban back garden since we moved in sixteen years ago. It might be small and in suburban south London but the garden is very close to a patch of ancient woodland so it’s a pleasingly well-rounded list.

As listing goes, a garden bird-list is wonderfully passive. It’s the ultimate expression of ‘patching’ in birding terms. You put up birdfeeders, put in water, and the birds will either come or they won’t. Unlike twitching, there’s no amount of stressful racing around which is going to add to the list.

My garden bird-list is in two parts.: (1) ‘landers’, birds which actually landed in the garden, and (2) flybys, birds which I could see from the garden. On rare occasions a bird graduates from list 2 to list 1, as a redwing did this weekend. I’ve never seen so many redwings in London as I have this winter but after a week of snow and ice, one finally braved the garden, perhaps to find out what all the feathery action round the bird feeders was all about.

Perhaps the most surprising bird on list 1 is the mallard. Just after we’d moved in, a pair waddled down the slope of the communal garden and hopped into the garden looking for… well I don’t know what, and they didn’t hang around. We didn’t even have a pond at that point. I have a fond memory of the day I looked out of the window and saw the bare winter ground rippling beneath the niger seed feeder. It was a flock of about twenty lesser redpolls which had only visited in twos and threes up until that point. That was probably seven or eight years ago and sadly we haven’t had any for a few years now.

Some of you will be grateful I haven’t yet listed the birds yet while others may be just wishing I’d get on with it! So I’m afraid I’ve gone with sharing. I’ve made it a small typeface so you can easily ignore it if you want to.

List 1 – Landers

  • Wren
  • Robin
  • Blackbird
  • Redwing
  • Blue tit
  • Great tit
  • Coal tit
  • Long-tailed tit
  • Sparrowhawk
  • Magpie
  • Carrion crow
  • Jay
  • Nuthatch
  • Great spotted woodpecker
  • Wood pigeon
  • Feral pigeon
  • Ring-necked parakeet
  • Siskin
  • Lesser redpoll
  • Blackcap
  • Goldcrest
  • Greenfinch
  • Goldfinch
  • Chaffinch
  • Dunnock
  • Mallard

List 2 – Flybys

  • Mistle thrush
  • Swift
  • Hobby
  • Grey heron
  • Canada goose

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