Back Garden Bird Race - July results

26 July 2020 | Posted in Michael Blencowe
Back Garden Bird Race - July results

Before we start with this week's results - next month's Back Garden Bird Race will be on Sunday 23 August (so not to clash with the August Bank Holiday).

It felt good to get 'back in the saddle' for the first Back Garden Bird Race since we stopped the weekly races in June. And from the comments, a lot of people enjoyed being back Bird Racing too. 

This was the thirteenth bird race we have organised. It doesn't seem that long ago we were recording the first returning Blackcaps in the spring. In today's Bird Race I started seeing signs of the first autumn migrants returning after breeding further in the north. A Common Gull passed over the garden and, just five minutes after the Bird Race finished, a Green Sandpiper flew over, calling, on its journey back from Scandinavia.

Autumn's almost here folks!

Speaking of gulls, a Herring Gull with what appeared to be an entire pasty in its mouth flew over the garden too. I tried to get a photo for you - and in doing so managed to photograph a House Martin which I added to the list.


It's not just birds who have started migrating. It seems with restrictions easing a few of you were bird racing from other gardens across Sussex / England too. In Brighton, Jocelyn reported that her bird-loving daughter was assisting in the race after spending three months in lockdown at the bird observatory on North Ronaldsay, Orkney! What a place to be trapped!

Starling Party

'Starling Party' by Jessanny Mayhew

There were some great clouds around today. Georgie suggested I should organise a Back Garden Cloud Race. Hmmm, not entirely sure how that would work. 

Montage 3

(Photos from Georgie Nash, Sue Walton and Jane Willmott)

Today's winner was Mike from Herstmonceux. Mike said  "It was an interesting hour - so subtly different from the previous Bird Races. Had to work at it though, as I usually just sit there listening to birdsong and gazing over the Levels. Plenty of (young) birds calling but barely any actual song. Got lucky with a Hobby overhead and a last min Grey Heron flapping across the Levels about 500m away"

Here's Mike's list

Mike 2

Mike beat our usual Bird Race winner Cliff. Maybe Cliff's new Zukinox binoculars weren't up to the job. As Cliff pointed out "what they lack in clarity they gain in edibility. Try making a ratatouille with your fancy Swarovskis and see how far you get"


Thank you to everyone who took part in this week's Back Garden Bird Race. Good to 'see' you all again! Here are the results from this week. Apologies as always for any errors or omissions.

Scores 26July

It was great to see Andy Dinsdale was back with a new visual interpretation of his score. We've already had a Venn Diagram, so here's Andy's Zen Diagram.

Andy Dinsdale

This list shows all the birds reported from Sussex gardens this week, from most frequent (in red) to least frequent (in green) with a total count of 52 species.


Thank you again to Lois Mayhew of Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre for her help with today's data.

We'll be back again on Sunday August 23rd!


  • Ginny-Vic:

    26 Jul 2020 15:16:00

    I was thinking I should buy some binoculars, but now I realise I can just make some out of vegetables! Ha ha! Thanks so much for organising another great event!

  • Tessa:

    26 Jul 2020 18:37:00

    Thank you Cliff for your Zukinox binoculars, really made me laugh.

  • Liz C:

    26 Jul 2020 19:36:00

    I enjoyed the bird race today and was very happy with my score of 17. I typed up my list but now I wonder if I forgot to press “submit”. I got a bit distracted! Thanks Michael, I am looking forward to our next race on 23 August.

    Michael: Sorry Liz - it seems the mistake was at my end. Not sure what happened there - I must be out of practice. Well done on your 17!
  • Rob Stewart:

    28 Jul 2020 09:57:12

    Well done, Mike. Interesting comments from all contestants too.