I suppose any garden will pop up odd things from time to time if its watched enough. Ours is very much an urban patch on the north side of Newcastle. Ok - its got a few mature trees - a poplar, a sycamore and a scrawny copper beech - plenty of ivy and more than a smattering of unkempt corners (or as I prefer to call them 'areas of managed neglect') but it's undeniably urban.
At the more unusual end of the garden bird tick list, we've a treecreeper creeping up a tree, a great spotted woodpecker wrecking a nest box, a grey wagtail on the patio, a cuckoo on the fence, tawny owls in the trees, a sparrowhawk tearing a pigeon to pieces on the grass....oh yes and a Senegal Parrot (boy are they loud!) that regularly turned up for peanuts for a year or so.
If I cheat a bit and add in the vertical airspace then there's pink footed, greylag and barnacle geese, oystercatchers, buzzard, mallard, mute swan and once - and I'm sticking to this - a goshawk (just don't press me to explain why it wasn't a female sparrowhawk). Then there's the fox that got the pet rabbit at 3 am but that's another story.
I digress. About noon today, a cry of 'what's that funny looking bird?' had me rushing to the window just in time to see, strutting its stuff across the grass....... a woodcock of all things. Not only is that a first round here but its also the best and clearest view of a woodcock I've had for many a year. Alas it didn't linger long enough for a photo.
Woodcock migrate to this country in late autumn/early winter from colder areas of Europe - Russia, Finland etc and reading up a bit on this it seems they prefer to travel at night by a full moon with an easterly wind - which is close enough to what we've had these last few nights. So I suspect that this was a migrant recently arrived, probably wacked and desperately seeking a worm - not an easy task in frozen, rock hard ground.
I wonder if this bird was part of a larger influx?