Sunday, 9 February 2014

Visitors from Near and Far . . . .

Hearing about the American Yellow-Rumped Warbler seen by some lucky so-and-so visiting their garden during the Big Garden Birdwatch in County Durham of all places (and now an official 'twitch' though not by me as it's already on my life-list from Florida:), got me thinking of what I'd like to find one day in my own well-watched garden.
A mega like that would be great but I dream of getting a Hawfinch one day hopefully during a harsh winter (which tends to bring allsorts in not usually seen, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer and Pheasant spring to mind) or a lesser-spotted pecker in a roving tit flock would do. But other than that I'm constantly on the lookout for a Rose-coloured Starling in the visiting flocks and that would probably be as good as it gets. The local resident bird I would like to see is the Willow Tit, plentiful nearby and seen and heard just a couple of hundred yards away so you never know.

My garden list to date stands at 91, 48 of which have actually touched down in the garden, the remaining 42 have been flyovers plus 1 (cuckoo) is down as a heard only from the nearby farmland.

Of those that have actually been in the garden, the biggest rarity (if you can call it that) was this Meally Redpoll back in March 2011 :

But probably the biggest surprise was one morning in September 2012 when I looked out to find this Northern Wheatear perched atop the kids trampoline :

A very unlikely garden visitor as up 'til then I hadn't even seen one in the Derwent Valley, nor have I seen one since.

Those two are by far the most unusual visitors, and its tough to nominate a third place but I think a group of Yellowhammers during a harsh spell last January (2013) were my favourites, followed by a pair of linnets (though I quite often get as flyovers) which came in for a while during the spring of last year.

Occasional nuthatch and treecreeper, GS Woodpecker and very occasional Jay are always nice to see, and of the warblers Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler are annual, Blackcaps number 5 (the last earlier this year) and a Common Whitethroat was regular for a week or so one late summer a few years back.

Of the winter visitors I seem to get a Brambling or four every other year, and harsher weather tends to bring Redwing and Fieldfare (love the fieldfare) and occasional groups of lesser redpoll, though siskin tend to be a year-round species, albeit in small numbers (highest count of 22).

Lovely bird at close-quarters, the Fieldfare

I suppose the only other bird I'd like to get in the garden is a Red Kite, they've swooped very low on occasions but not yet touched down, so remain on the flyover list only. Wonder what will be next?


  1. Living in Wallsend next to the Coast Road, a Blue Tit is an exciting event in our garden............although we have had a Coal Tit on a couple of occasions.
    I, along with my converted neighbour, take lots of pride in our growing House Sparrow flock. They make my day EVERY day.
    The occasional Sparrowhawk always raises pulse rates, to me and the spuggies.

  2. A blue tit is quite an exciting event here too John, we get loadsa finches but for some reason precious few tits.
    Divvent get me wrong, I love watching the everyday comings and goings of the regular birds, but getting something away from the norm is a thrill.
    A spughawk is a double-edged sword, exciting to see but it usually ends with one of my bird-café customers being eaten.
    Good to hear you have good spuggy numbers, ours is a constant dozen or so and has been for ten years, along with the starlings they're suffering cos everyone seems to get those awful bloody plastic boards (forget the name for them) along the underside of the roof which does away with all the nesting holes. bloody things should be banned.