Helgoland, October 2012
I have never been a garden lister, but I was always fascinated by the book of John Holloway: Fair Isle’s Garden Birds, published back in 1984. He recorded in 5 years 177 species in his garden, including some major rarities.
When I moved to Helgoland this spring, I thought, this must be the time to start a promising garden list. I count everything what is sitting in the garden, flying over or can be seen/heard from the garden. My list started not too bad with a Short-toed Treecreeper (only the 17th Helgoland record), continued with a spring Olive-backed Pipit (only the 3rd spring record for Germany), several Greenish Warblers and Common Rosefinches, a Woodchat Shrike, a Rosy Starling and a Barred Warbler (while having lunch – me and also the Warbler). On Monday (2 days ago) we trapped a Radde’s Warbler in the bird observatory, which is directly beside my garden.
Yesterday in the lunch break, I flushed it in my garden. What a great admission to my garden list, I thought! However, this was only a taster for what should come 2 hours later. Eckhard Moeller, one of many birders spotted a strange warbler in my garden (from the outside of the garden). He phoned me and suspected an Eastern Crowned Warbler. I immediately left my desk and could see the warbler for 10 seconds – that was really something very good: White underparts, one and a half wingbars, shape like an Arctic Warbler and a head-pattern of Arctic Warbler (supercilium) and dull Pallas’s Warbler (crown). It was indeed an Eastern Crowned Warbler. Soon the news spread and the many birders present on the island (100-200) could connect with the bird.
My garden list stands now at 117 species in 6 months – not too bad. However, although I can seawatch from my balcony, I never actually did, so there are still many common species like Red-throated Divers missing on the list. And if I’m not working, I’m usually out birding and not sitting in my living room watching the garden. Perhaps I should change that? It seems to be the place on the island at the moment, although there are also Olive-backed Pipit, Black-throated Thrush, Rosy Starling and Isabelline Shrike on the island.