There is so much that the “armchair naturalist” can observe if s/he takes a few minutes’ break from working on the computer or reading the newspaper and books, through the window, at the world outside.

This morning, for example, I noticed a wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) on the wooden fence at the back of our tiny cottage in Norfolk. It was only visible for a few seconds before disappearing into the undergrove. My wife, Margaret, commented that it was the first wren that we had seen in the garden for some time. I think this is perhaps because we haven’t found time to look out for them!

Over lunch yesterday we watched one of our local resident jackdaws (Corvus monedula) who was busy on the neighbour’s roof. There was much social interaction amongst these birds – an interesting study in itself as recent research has highlighted the role of social structure in jackdaw colonies and how a dominant bird will use its “beady eyes” to exercise control over others in the group.

Yesterday however, our observations were far less scientific and profound. We got great pleasure from watching a jackdaw search amongst the moss on the roof for insects (we presume) and then take occasional pieces of moss back to a chimney top where it and its mate are starting a nest.

Which species of bird can you see from your window, armchair naturalists? Do remember to list them. In this age of rapidly declining bird populations, even records of apparently common species provide important data for those who are studying the unprecedented phenomenon of dwindling numbers of so many wild birds. 

Armchair naturalists should be prepared to listen, as well as to observe. Margaret and I woke early (5:30) this morning to the song of a blackbird, lustily proclaiming its presence to others in the neighbourhood. It was a pleasant reminder that spring is in the air and that, despite Covid-19, life goes on.

By John and Margaret Cooper FLS