Sunday, 2 April 2017

Recuperation. Lazy birding at its best!

After being rushed to hospital on Friday evening to have my appendix removed I was told by the doctors to take a week to rest, but me being me I thought I'd turn my inability to get out birding on the patch or elsewhere into a little challenge and try for a few 'big days' from a comfy chair in the garden. Today was a particularly good day to do so, weather-wise, and I notched up a respectable 46 bird species.

The day got off to a good start as, no sooner had I got outside and set up my chair, the first garden Swallow for the year flew east, singing as it went.

A short while later an unmistakeable call alerted me to a Raven approaching from the direction of Blackheath. It then proceeded to soar over the garden for a couple of minutes along with the first Red Kite of the day before the two birds parted company and the Raven flew off high north. Only about my fifth garden record of this species.

Raven and Red Kite
The Red Kites kept coming throughout the day, with at least four birds involved, and two together chasing each other around low over the trees just after midday. Buzzards were up and about in good numbers too with a conservative count of six individuals seen during the day, including this strikingly pale bird.
Red Kite
Singles of Kestrel and Sparrowhawk completed the raptor tally for the day - sadly there wasn't to be another Osprey after the one which flew west yesterday afternoon!

Aside from a few Redpolls and Meadow Pipits over, things went rather quiet on the skywatching front in the middle of the day - not least because we were enjoying the company of some visiting family members - but my first garden Blackcap of the year was nice to hear. We were also treated to an unexpected flypast from two Apache gunships and a Chinook!

Pied Wagtail
As the sun began to go down a hot air balloon appeared from the west, causing much panic amongst the water birds on the large private lake across the fields from our house. Mandarin and Coot were heard and at least four Shoveler were flushed up and circled for several minutes. Tick! Number 88 on the garden bird list since August 2014. We'll likely be moving house before the summer is over but I'm still hopeful of reaching 90 at this rate before we leave.

Shoveler (honest!)
There was plenty of non-bird excitement too, with my first Holly Blue and Orange-tip for the year of particular note amongst regular flypasts of Brimstone, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral. A Bee-fly made a brief appearance in the herb border at one point as did Common Carder Bee and Tree Bumblebee.

All in all, not a bad day considering I spent most of it sitting in one spot and, as the saying goes, tomorrow is another day!

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