Bird Recording – South Cliff Gardens – 28th April 2021   16.15 – 17.45     

House Sparrow x3, Blue Tit  x 4, Great Tit x1, Coal Tit x1, Long-tailed Tit x6, Chaffinch x2, Greenfinch  x2, Goldfinch x5, Bullfinch x 4 (2xM, 2xF), Blackbird  x4, Magpie x1, Dunnock  x3, Carrion Crow x1, Robin x2, Treecreeper  x1, Wren x1, Chiffchaff  x2, Wood Pigeon x 3

There are two things I‘ve learnt over the years watching birds and taking photographs. The first is, you only truly see by not trying to see. And the second is, if you have your binoculars or your camera at the ready then, almost certainly, you will see something of interest that you weren‘t expecting to see. With that in mind I confidently approached the feeding site in Holbeck Gardens/Ravine to re-fill the feeders and start the count. First up, as I plucked one feeder from a branch, a long-tailed tit landed 3 feet from my nose on another, chipped away at the usual very special Wilco treat, freed a seed-laden chunk of chewy suet and flew silently off. A not untypical start to visits I’ve discovered.

Half hidden behind a nearby tree I start the count. Bullfinches watch and coo, timidly weighing everything up, blue tits fly in and out at the speed of light, greenfinches peer, dunnocks scrabble on the floor and then disappear into the bushes doing that wafty thing with their wing and then chase off after the nearest available member of the opposite sex. And those uncouth flashypants, the goldfinches, just cause mayhem with their fighting, arguing and spraying food in every direction.

Shortly afterwards a chap with a pair of binoculars and a big lens camera arrives and we have a chat. Pete’s a recent incomer to Scarborough, too, rather like my wife, Margret, and I. He shows me a video he’s made of three bullfinches on one of the feeders. Impressed, I start to think about my next camera and which tactics I’ll need to employ to persuade Margret of this latest absolute necessity. A short while later Derek, who lives close by, appears and introduces me to Connie from Scotland, another recent incomer. She mentions the red squirrels she has regularly seen there and we all turn green with envy. Look what we’ve got, we cry, as at that very moment a pair of greys begin their sneaky, circuitous approach towards our Wilco’s feast. And then it becomes a turmoil; chat, a bit of counting, sighs of exasperation with the squirrels followed by expletives (me) and a brave bit of arm-waving by Pete, more chat, more counting, more chat. It has to be said – when I signed up for this bird recording lark nobody said it was going to be this hard.

Finally, we finished and we all sloped off home. I did return, though, with camera drawn and wandered slowly along the collapsing path leading up from the feeders. Just looking, but not too hard (see above), I made the acquaintance of this wonderful female blackbird. And how friendly she was, perching on the remains of some fencing, most of which had disappeared down the slope abutting the path, and showing me which way to go. Suddenly she landed close to my feet and indicated in the clearest terms her disapproval of all this dereliction. Finally she flew a short way ahead, perched on a stump just in front of me and we had just the loveliest chat. This is exactly what I mean. Keep your eyes open but don’t expect.

P.S. There’s been a long, unresolved debate about whether birds’ names should be capitalised or not, i.e. should it be Great Tit or great tit? The RSPB apparently says no to capitalisation. My Collins Bird Guide, on the other hand, prefers capitals. Views differ depending on which of the several forums you visit. Agitation is rife. Rather like the question about how long a piece of string is, I think there ought to be a definitive answer but there clearly isn’t one. For my part I think I’ll follow the dictates of whichever whim takes me. After all, on the Richter Scale of life’s annoyances and frustrations, particularly now, this has to be sitting pretty close to the bottom of the list, doesn’t it?

To see more of Adams amazing photographs check out his website here:


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