My Grounded Garden Bird Watch

I on a kitchen chair in front of the window. I’m excited and ready to go, with a cuppa, bird books, paper and pen beside me. I relish an hour of focusing only on the natural world for the RSPB Great Garden Bird Watch. It feels like a luxury, and every year I think I must do this more often. I never do.

Outside, it’s only 4 degrees Celsius. The birds are keen to feed and increase their calories. The Blue Tits and Great Tits are already in attendance. They quickly dart from branch to branch, from feeder to feeder. The Blue Tits are happy to eat quickly at the feeder. The Great Tit takes a seed to eat elsewhere.

House Sparrows come down in flocks, chirping and chattering as they dart in and out of the honeysuckle and onto the feeders. Hierarchies are worked out and redrawn. Then “Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch.” Warning cries ring out and the birds all flee together back into the protection of the Honeysuckle.

After 15 minutes I am fully tuned in to activity in the garden and I begin to resent household noises. I am desperate to scream, “Go Away!”. My poor husband. He is only drying up and has no idea that I have entered a mindful trance. I ask him nicely to leave.

I can strongly feel where my body connects with the chair and the floor. I feel grounded, like when I complete my Tai Chi circles. It’s a lovely feeling but can also be a wakeup call. Noticing my aches and pains, and my tiredness, I remember I am not bulletproof. Suddenly, fatigue is not far away.

The Goldfinches appear. Delicate & beautiful; the prima donnas of the bird ballet. I get a hit of endorphins when I see a Mistle Thrush sitting atop the fir tree, its breast creamy white and speckled brown in the sunshine. The regal King (or Queen?) of the castle in its lofty perch.

The birds ebb and flow. With ten minutes to go the garden is suddenly devoid of birds. I feel bereft. I don’t want the count to end with silence. To my delight with just four minutes left there is a sudden flurry of activity again.

Finally, my hour of watching the birds is complete, and I am happy.

My final tally (after adjustment). On my paper in the picture I had counted total seen, and it should be total seen at any one time. Thanks to my friend Louise I realised my mistake!

  • House Sparrow – 10
  • Blue Tit – 8
  • Great Tit – 5
  • Robin – 3
  • Wood Pigeon – 2
  • Magpie – 2
  • Goldfinch – 3
  • Mistle Thrush – 1
  • Blackbird – 1
  • Chaffinch – 1
  • Common Gull – 1
  • Collared Dove – 1

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