Garden List expansion

Like many other birders, I keep a Garden List as well as a life list. This morning I was hoping to expand my garden list by maybe a species or two by doing a simple Birdwatch for an hour. I set up my binoculars at the windowsill in my bedroom and started watching my garden from 10:30. The first species to arrive was a pair of Robins, foraging in the leaf litter. Then a Blue Tit flew onto the feeder followed by another and another and another until there was about ten on and around the feeder. Just then some action started to happen. A flock of six Redwings flew into our garden then another six and the number of Redwings kept going up and up and up. by ten minutes I had counted just 100 Redwings in our garden. It was a spectacular sight, but not a new species for my garden list. More birds kept on coming, Chaffinches, Carrion Crows, Woodpigeons, even a Buzzard flew overhead. No new garden species though. Suddenly I spotted a small streaky bird at the foot of our giant Oak Tree, it was a little smaller than a chaffinch and probably a type of finch. I looked at it through my binoculars and spotted a patch of red on its forehead. A Redpoll. I had seen a Lesser Redpoll in our garden before, washing in our bird bath, but most of its features seemed to point to a Common Redpoll, such as the fact that going from its head downwards, there was a smaller, thinner white wing bar followed by a larger, wider one. I found out that a Common Redpoll was only seen once in Sussex in 2012 and even experts have difficulty telling them apart. It would also be a new species for my garden list! I couldn’t get very good photos due to the fact that it was so small, it was quite far away for my camera to reach and we were looking at it through a window. After it had flown into a laurel bush on the west side of the garden, I put the sighting into BTO’s birdtrack as a redpoll species. At the end of the birdwatch, I had seen 199 individual birds, a record for my garden. That number included:

7 Robins

20 Blue Tits

20 Common Wood-Pigeons

1 Buzzard

100 Redwings

10 Great Tits

10 Chaffinches

2 Dunnocks

3 Blackbirds

3 Jays

16 Carrion Crows

3 Magpies

1 Bullfinch

1 Redpoll spp.

2 Collared Doves

One of the Redwings

Winter Thrushes

Finally! They are here. I have staked out by the window since the first of October, my eyes on the holly tree. Then now, on the 17th of November, 48 days after I started watching for them, a flock of Redwings flew from the left of our garden and landed on the holly tree. They then started to hop and fly around, so I didn’t have a good view, but now as I’m writing this, there are three of them perched on a branch. When they’re sat like this, relatively out in the open, you can admire the surprisingly bold streaks on their breast and the prominent red patch under their wing, hence the name Redwing.They are also surprisingly small, only about three times the size of a Blue Tit, which just happens to be foraging next to one now! They have two white eye stripes which are also quite prominent, below and above the eye that meet on either side of the eye near the beak and near the back of the head. Birds are usually more bold in real life than they are in bird books, I think. It is exactly 16:00 right now, which makes me both happy and sad. Sad because there is not much light to photograph them now because the sun is setting early and happy because they might roost in our garden! We are still expecting a Fieldfare (or a flock) to come and dine in our garden, so fingers crossed they will appear.