There is something quite decadent about birding from your own garden. No need to get up at some ridiculously early hour. No need to get in the car and drive away to add to the traffic congestion and air pollution. Cups of tea whenever you want one. And toast - don't forget the toast...
This morning saw the latest in my concerted effort to sky watch the first one-two hours of the day from home. It has been going quite well, with even the quietest days providing at least Chaffinches and Redwings to look at. I love that half-light, especially on a still morning, when the lonely 'pink' of a Chaffinch, or 'siiip' of a Redwing sends shivers down my spine. It heralds the start of another ornithological lucky dip, another chance to scrutinise the conveyor belt of birds.
What of today? Best bird was a calling Woodlark, a garden first, heard twice as it flew west but remained unseen. Close behind was a single Lapwing, now an irregular sighting here in Banstead. Also recorded were 2 Brambling, 215 Starling, 135 Chaffinch, 111 Fieldfare and 45 Redwing. One particular flock of Fieldfare, 40 strong, flew through the garden at tree-top height. Magical.
There seems to be more adoptees of visible migration across London and Surrey. No doubt there are many, like me, who have done so in the past at coastal headlands but have decided to seek the thrills out closer to home - more personal and more fulfilling. The autumn migration might be coming to an end, but there are always opportunities to make winter skywatching worthwhile. I'm hoping that the numbers of Waxwings being reported on the eastern coast might suggest a good winter for them. A trilling Waxwing over the garden would go down very well indeed.