So that was the penultimate weekly Back Garden Bird Race. We'll run one more next Sunday (weather forecast looks good at the moment) and then take a break.
During July birds tend to become less obvious, many of them moult their feathers after the breeding season and keep a low profile as they are a bit vulnerable. I was expecting a low score today - so I was thrilled when, after a heated hour in the garden, I achieved my personal best score - 27! It was helped by a lone Lapwing overhead and a fly-by Feral Pigeon (which is a real rarity here). With a score of 27 I was getting close to the big 3-0 - but Bird Race regulars Robin and Buzzard had let me down. At one point I had visions of catching up with Cliff Dean.
Cliff, whose garden overlooks the Pett Levels (his 'unfair advantage' as he calls it) usually tops the weekly result table and, at the start of this week's race it looked as though he was going to be missing out. With only a few minutes to spare he posted:
"Hot footing it back from the allotment (where 26 species including Crossbill). However it is a truth universally acknowledged that all birds stop singing between 10 & 11 on Sundays..."
...but he was back in position for 10am "I've found a phone box to change into my alter ego..."
Then, during the race Cliff suffered a bird feeder calamity "The sheer tonnage of young Starlings has just knocked over our bird feeder - before either Greenfinch or Great Spotted Woodpecker have had a go"
Meanwhile, Sue Walton did a spot of Bird Race multi-tasking "I decided to take a different vantage point today and stood at my kitchen window. With all the talk of biscuits I felt decidedly peckish (see what I did there!) and decided to rustle up a batch of spicy cheese scones at the same time.".
Sue ended up with her highest score "This may be a personal best for the West Wing garden so multi-tasking obviously pays off!"...and a tray of delicious scones to boot. Result!
I still haven't wandered past the end of the cul-de-sac and while I've been sat here the birds in the garden have raised a family. Now some (but not all) garden birds are making plans for a second brood. A Woodpigeon has started building a new nest in the neighbour's hedge, a House Sparrow was flying back and forth collecting feathers and this Blackbird was gathering a beakful of nesting material
Is it me or does it look like Jimmy Edwards ?
Jessica was taking part in the race for the first time "We saw a lovely little family of wrens, which was really nice as we've never noticed them before. Although we have definitely heard them! And now we've been able to put a sighting to the calls. I think focusing in on what we saw for an hour helped us to pay a bit more attention, which is fantastic. It was great to take part, to just sit and soak up the garden atmosphere, listening to nature and the calls of the birds whilst watching them swoop down for the occasional insect treat!"
(Photos from Ryan Greaves, Sue Curnock, Simon Linington & Jessanny Mayhew)
After last week's lovely photo of a Woodpigeon here's another great 'Woodpigeon of the Week' photo from Peter Whitcomb.
Thank you to everyone who took part in this week's Back Garden Bird Race. Congratulations to everybody who achieved a new Personal Best score (especially me). Here are the results from this week. Apologies as always for any errors or omissions.
Andy Dinsdale's results get more complex each week. This week he explains he's been "Playing with a mix of Radar and Venn? The nearer the centre, the closer to the bird feeder. I am sure it is flawed but it's good to play. Orange = seen & heard, Green = heard, Purple = seen, Black = not seen or heard but recorded previously in SWT birdrace (therefore expected?)"
I'm hoping Andy's results for the final Bird Race next week will be conveyed via the medium of interpretive dance.
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 57 species.
Thank you again to Lois Mayhew of Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre for her help with today's data.
So, next week's Bird Race will be the final weekly Bird Race before we take a break. See you there!