Well, it had to happen eventually. After 16 almost completely dry Back Garden Bird Races it rained pretty much constantly today from start to finish.
"Monsoon conditions" in Barcombe. Photo by Simon Linington.
Instead of sitting out in the garden I was forced to watch the from the sofa - but I soon realised that the double glazing was blocking out any bird calls so I opened the patio door and bravely poked my head out into the rain (picking up the calls of Siskin and Meadow Pipit as they passed overhead in the dark sky as well as a very distant 'chip' from a Great-spotted Woodpecker).
Over in the far east of the county Cliff was out in his garden (which famously gives him an unfair advantage as it looks down over Pett Levels). Cliff wrote "Purple sky over Icklesham but bright sunshine here. Though the tide is ebbing, dozens of Curlews remain probing the meadows. Half-term glampers in Camo fashionwear are photographing cattle while a Marsh Harrier disperses a gull roost".
Cliff's 'unfair advantage' view
But even Cliff had to abandon the garden and seek some shelter "It's gone dark - rain - retreat to the veranda. Down below, seawall strollers hurry to the shelter and London-price coffee. Car headlights are on. A forlorn Swallow passes"
For most of us the view of the back garden looked very much like this:
Gill's Brighton back garden during Bird race #16.
Gill and Sue resorted to watching through the window and sharing recipes for crabapple and rosemary jelly.
But despite the bleak weather there were a still a few signs of summer. A few people recorded Swallows flying over their gardens winging their way to better weather way down in South Africa. There were still Chiffchaff and Blackcap in gardens - some passing through, some planning on staying for the winter.
Ryan recorded a few Redwing returning from Scandinavia to spend the winter in Sussex but the star bird of today's bird race was another species of thrush. A Ring Ouzel was seen by Colin and Janet in Steyning - "an adult male seen briefly and distantly in downland bushes from our patio. One has been present for around a week but only seen very sporadically – this is the third autumn in five years living here that we’ve seen stopover Ring Ouzels in the area". Ring Ouzels are birds of the uplands and can be encountered on British moorlands in the summer months. At this time of year they pass through Sussex on their way to their wintering grounds in the high altitude of the Atlas Mountains of North Africa.
Ring Ouzel on its moorland breeding grounds. Photo by Steve Garvie
There was some excitement in my garden when a male Sparrowhawk came powering through and crashed into the bird feeder, scattering Blue Tits everywhere. It seems Anne's local Sparrowhawk was planning on a bigger Sunday lunch and was chasing a pigeon. Elsewhere Jill had a Sparrowhawk which perched on her bird feeder at 10:39 and staying there for the rest of the bird race. Unsurprisingly no other birds visited while it was "waiting patiently by the fat ball feeder".
And we heard from Margaret who has been a bird race regular since we started on 4 April. Margaret is over in Wales where she was having the feeling of Bird Race Deja Vu - she's back in lockdown again. But at least she saw a double rainbow from her window during the Bird Race.
A wet Pied Wagtail. Photo by Clare Elmes
Here's the scores and comments from today's race
The next Back Garden Bird Race will be on November 29. Thanks to everyone who took part in the rain - I'm glad you enjoyed it. As one person said:
"Wildlife has been a lifeline for mental wellbeing. Thank you Michael for organising this event for so long."
See you in November!