This week I got an armchair tick. Not as a result of a species split, but because I sat in my armchair and saw a bird I haven’t seen in the wild before. There I was, sat in Weymouth, with the TV news droning on about how “what I want to see is British holidays for British workers ” blah blah blah, when in desperation I pick up the binoculars, turn 30 degrees to the left, and there out of the window on the Boating Lake was a Hooded Merganser.
It has been there for a while, and ordinarily would be considered an obvious escape. But No! It first turned up after some strong winds in a storm drain near Portland looking near death. It disappeared, the locals assuming it had departed to paddle in a celestial pond. A couple of days it reappeared fresh as a daisy a later on Weymouth Boating Lake, doing what wild ducks do, namely sleeping with occasional breaks to cadge bread from passing strangers.
Well, it’s not going to get any better than this is it. No doubt various committees, after consideration of the most serious kind, will conclude that we cannot be sure beyond doubt that it isn’t an escape, but we know the truth! Now is not the time to go looking gift horses in the mouth. So it’s ticked, and its staying ticked.
Just to prove that wild birds and urban environments do mix, I was in the centre of Weymouth the following day when a call of the wilderness rang out above my head. Two Ravens flew over, gronking away, closely followed by a couple of aggrieved Jackdaws. Case proven, I think.