RSPB Big Garden Fishwatch

It’s been far too long since the Knumptywagen was out on the road – and as a result, there’s been little activity on this Blog, since there’s currently not a lot of travel-based inspiration available from our locked-down front room. So please forgive this momentary departure from the normal travel-based ethos and instead perhaps enjoy this brief missive from the home front.

“Enjoy an hour with nature and . . . see the drama unfold on your doorstep.”

So read the enticing blurb for the RSPB’s annual Birdwatch survey, conducted over one weekend in January, and presumably involving many more bored locked-down twitchers than ever before.

Enchanting images of small songbirds populated the colourful website and – thus enthused – we set aside an hour to contribute our checklist to the national tally.

With the demise of our aged cat last summer, we were keen to re-establish a garden into which small songbirds could again venture without feline fear. Thus, a variety of bird-feeders were slung amidst the branches of our straggling apple tree and although this arrangement hasn’t yet induced a feathered feeding frenzy, we were optimistic for our hour’s observation from our ‘hide’ behind the kitchen window.

Our garden also features a raised pond, built when our children were small to allow access without danger of falling in. As such, it’s hosted many a fairground goldfish, most of which survived their traumatised provenance and grew to a decent size. Some even produced offspring – such that – in its heyday – we were able to count over 20 fish. (A definitive tally proved incalculable as the damn things insisted on swimming around during critical headcounts.) 

The problem was, we weren’t the only ones keeping a tally. To our concern, an RSPB-approved heron had also identified the opportunity of a feeding frenzy and became a regular visitor, often strutting proudly around our garden like an officious equerry at a Royal garden-party. Continual shooing; Heath-Robinson-style net-deployment and eventually a surface-floating anti-heron grid all proved ineffectual, to the point where ‘More Than A Score’ was gradually whittled to a confidently countable ‘Seven.’

And then, as if in celebration of the protection afforded to it by the RSPB, one morning we discovered that the Seven had been herroned down to Zero, which possibly explains why we conducted our Birdwatch session fully equipped with all the usual requisites: binoculars; checklist; pads and pens – along with a nagging desire for an air-rifle.

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