This years RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch has been a very different affair to the excitement and drama of last year's count when I unexpectedly added a local urban fox (Vulpes vulpes) to my garden mammal list.
It seems a bit colder this year with a frost on the ground and I had to break the ice on the water dish on the bird table when I topped up the bird-seed at 08:00. A crisp clear blue January sky, without a cloud in sight.
As with last year I started the watch at 08:15. The garden was devoid of birds and even with the bedroom window wide open, I could not hear any target species in the local vicinity.
I started scanning the roof tops for the "additional sightings" list instantly adding 4 wood pigeon (Columba palumbus) and a couple of black-headed gulls (Larus ridibundus), a herring gull (Larus argentatus) flew past.
A little way in to the survey a ♂ blackbird (Turdus merula) caught my attention flying between gardens several house down. A small movement of carrion crow (Corvus corone corone) 2,1,1, and a single magpie (Pica pica) were added to the "additional sightings" list.
A pied wagtail (Motacilla alba) flew over unseen its "chiswick chiswick" call unmistakeable.
Herring gull and black-headed gull continued to fly over as well as well as a couple of feral pigeon (Columba livia). The wood pigeon constantly on the move between roof-tops and TV arials. But nothing landing in the garden to add to garden birdwatch list. I was getting bored.
At 08:40 a peripheral movement caught my eye and turning I noted a ♀ blackbird entering my neighbours garden - which in keeping with last years count, I eagerly added to the garden bird watch list. The ♀ stayed in the garden feeding mainly on the ground. Shortly afterwards a ♂ blackbird flew low over both gardens but failed to land.
At 09:02 five wood pigeons landed on the shed roof in my other next door neighbour's garden, as they were feeding on the seed and meal worms I had laced the roof with at 08:00 - I felt more than justified adding them to my garden bird list.
A minute later and the wood pigeons and ♀ blackbird flushed when a local moggy (Felis domesticus) appeared on a nearby garden wall.
My garden bird watch was over 13 minutes early the cat continuing on into my neighbours garden and up onto the shed roof where it stayed in situ until 09:20.
For a retrospective look at last years RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch list goto: http://part-timenaturalist.blogspot.com/2010/01/rspb-big-garden-birdwatch-sunday-31st.html