Okay this wasn't in my garden - but it's too good to leave out of the diary!
Wryneck (Jynx torquilla)
This evening I took a phone call from Megan Scott
who said that she'd seen a bird which she was sure was a wryneck (Jynx torquilla
). The wryneck is related to woodpeckers and is a rare passage migrant in the UK with around 280 being seen each year - almost exclusively on the east and south coasts (see this page on the RSPBs website
). (A handful of pairs also breed in Scotland.) Husband Mark
went to look for the bird but could not locate it. Although the light would soon be fading, I went to look and was fortunate enough to get some quite good views and even this rather poor, but recognisable, photograph.
When Megan first saw the bird this morning as she walked to work, she approached to within about two feet of it! The bird was still in the same location when she walked home from work. This wryneck is most likely on passage and possibly hungry, which could explain why it allowed such a close approach. It might also explain why the bird stayed all day - having found a good food source (they feed exclusively on ants) it might have been taking the opportunity to 'refuel' before continuing on its migration (probably to Africa - south of the Sahara). By the time I saw the bird it was might more flighty and would not allow a close approach.
Apart from the excitement of seeing a rare bird, for me one of the most remarkable things about this sighting was its location: the edge of an out-of-town office and retail development in the northwest
of England. As the RSPB map shows, this is some distance from the usual places where it is seen.