Dear Readers, after the appearance of my 36th bird species last week, I am left wondering about which birds I would love to see in the garden, but never have. I am also pondering why this might be the case. For example, Coldfall Wood is just around the corner and is positively heaving with nuthatches, yet I have never seen them in the garden, although the great spotted woodpeckers regularly make the trip. Maybe the nuthatches have everything that they need, so why would they move?
And here’s another bird that many people are blessed with, but that I have never been lucky enough to have as a visitor – the bullfinch.
This lovely peachy-pink bird is not rare, and you’d think it would be pretty visible, but if it’s ever popped in I’ve never noticed it. My Crossley Guide mentions that it is now ‘a regular at garden feeders’. If you hear a distant wailing sound, that will be me.Then there’s this bird – it lives in ‘deciduous damp woodland’ (of which there is plenty again in Coldfall Wood) and you’d think that it might occasionally drop in, but not so far. This is the marsh tit, which as the Crossley Guide points out is one of the ‘worst-named British birds, not found in marshes at all’.Moving on, this bird is definitely on my wish-list, but I am not holding out much hope, though a pair were, again, heard in Coldfall Wood. If I saw a lesser spotted woodpecker in the garden I think you’d hear the cheers from space.
And then there’s this one, the turtle dove. Some people do see them in their gardens, but this bird (like the lesser spotted woodpecker) is a Red List species. Would one pay a visit to a little suburban garden? Who knows. As I’ve said before, when you try to create a garden for wildlife, you never know who will turn up. After all, I didn’t expect the grey heron either.
And finally, this is my dream bird (well, in terms of what could possibly turn up). There are tawny owls in St Pancras and Islington cemetery and Coldfall Wood, I have a tall tree, and they would be extremely welcome (though the magpies might be less impressed). But hey, I can dream. And if all else fails, you can hear them tu-whit tu-whooing if you’re in Coldfall as night falls, and sometimes it’s enough to know that an animal is still around and living its life.
So, this is the dream wish list, but in truth I am delighted with whoever shows up – even the commonest birds, the ones we take for granted, can amaze us if we pay attention. Is there a bird that you think should have shown up in your garden, one that you know is around, but which never puts in an appearance? Let us know, and we can commiserate together (and celebrate our good fortune in having a garden at all when so many people don’t).
A worthy dream list indeed.
We used to get nuthatches on our feeders in Switzerland, but I’ve not seen one here yet, though they are around, so I’m with you on that one. We have had bullfinches and lesser a spotted woodpecker (last year but not this). But, so far, we’ve also never seen a marsh (or willow) tit in 18 months. We don’t have turtle doves, but we do have a pair of collared doves, which sit like an old couple (aka ourselves) on the back of our bench taking in the view. (All) Owls are also eluding our gaze, though we do hear them occasionally.
I’d love to have a flock of squabbling, noisy, boisterous sparrows again. I haven’t seen one in the various gardens we’ve had since the 1990s, although I occasionally hear them chattering in the depths of hedges.