It's that time of year again, the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch. A time when it's OK to be a bit of a wimp and birdwatch from the warmth and comfort of your own home.
There's none of this trekking through acres of mud in your bare feet in all weathers, dragging several tonnes of optical equipment, to arrive at a damp, dark hide, which because it's colder inside than out, seems to have discovered the secret of refrigeration without all that CFC and electricity malarkey. Nuh-uh, cosy toes and cups of tea are the order of the day.
For the Tense Team, this year, the garden birdwatch weekend will be a bit of a damp squib compared to previous ones. We've not been in our rented cottage long enough to build up a loyal band of feathered visitors. That and the fact that if we did put food out, it would disappear off downwind at a goodly rate of knots*, last stop Scapa Flow.
In the six weeks that we have been here, the only birds we have seen are a couple of Blackbirds, a Robin, a Wren, a few of House Sparrows, a small flock of Starlings and a Sparrowhawk. The latter intent on reducing the 'a small flock of' to 'several' status. Nothing exotic like a Blue Tit or a Goldfinch (yesterday, in a neighbouring village, we had to be revived with smelling salts when we saw a Chaffinch).
So, to make up for the lack of any birdy news from this Orcadian garden, here, as they might say on BBC [insert season]watch, is what happened in previous years, whilst living in MK:
Why that last one wasn't a pun...
Numbers and birds - discuss
A bit about counting
I hope that normal BGB service will be resumed by January 2015.
* Not, you will note, Knots