The next Back Garden Bird Race will be on Sunday 25 October
It's the Autumn equinox on Tuesday and there were plenty of signs of the coming season during today's Bird Race - but there were plenty of reminders of the summer too.
My garden seemed rather quiet today - I had to struggle to see or hear some species; even some common birds appeared on my list after one fleeting glimpse (Great Tit, Greenfinch, Dunnock). A single Starling flew past at one point - a few months ago the back garden was absolutely filled with them and their families. Now they are starting to form winter flocks and have abandoned my neighbourhood. Conversely I've only recorded 3 Rooks during the bird race since March but today there must have been 100 streaming overhead - there's a winter roost in a nearby woodland.
A lot of Bird Racers commented on the large flocks of hirundines (House Martins and Swallows). Some, as Simon noted, seemingly heading northeast... in the wrong direction. These hirundines will be forming small flocks before heading over The Channel and down to Africa. The Swallows migrate all the way down to the bottom of the African continent while the House Martins will end up....well, we 're not sure. The wintering grounds of the House Martin are still poorly known - so we'll just have to say somewhere in Africa.
While the birds of summer are slipping away other birds are appearing here from the north. Cliff heard a Golden Plover overhead, arriving to spend autumn and winter on the Sussex coast after nesting in the north. It's a nice excuse for me to put up a picture of a Golden Plover in their lovely summer plumage (they lose that black belly in the winter).
Golden Plover photo by Roger Wilmshurst (probably in Scotland as they don't breed down here)
Siskins have arrived in my neighbourhood over the past week. I've been hearing their calls all week as they fly from conifer to conifer - (listen here) - so I was pleased when one flew past during the Bird Race. If you're lucky you could see this attractive little finch visiting your bird feeders in future Bird Races
My siskin today was a mile overhead so I didn't get a photo - but here's a photo by Derek Middleton
Thanks again to everyone who took part - here are today's scores and comments
The next race will be in the depths of autumn...25 October. See you there.
And for a bonus point can you name the bird that has lost this feather which Tony found his garden during the Bird Race.
(He identified it and tried to claim it for his list. Nice try Tony).