Corona Wildlife Diary: Day Forty

, 26 April 2020
Corona Wildlife Diary: Day Forty

It was another morning of sunshine and blue skies for today's Back Garden Bird Race.

This week I'd thought I'd throw in an extra rule - The Hoopoe Loophole. Hoopoes are flamboyant Mediterranean birds which you may have been fortunate to see on your holidays in the Costa del Somewhere where they can be encountered in parks and gardens. However Hoopoes sometimes take a wrong turn on migration and can 'overshoot' and reach England. It has been estimated that over a dozen have arrived in Sussex in the past weeks. As these birds sometimes find their way into people's gardens the Hoopoe Loophole could allow the lucky person who found one on their lawn to win today's race. 

Unfortunately no-one saw a Hoopoe in their garden - although a few people did try and convince the judges that they had.

David Bridgeman

(Cut-out Hoopoe by David Bridgeman)


(My cuddly Hoopoe lure. It even goes oop-oop-oop when you squeeze it)

...and even my own Dad tried to use the Hoopoe we saw at Portland Bill in 1985 to make him the winner.

Today's winner with 39 species was Cliff whose garden looks down over Pett Levels, which explains the wetland and coastal birds on his list, although he often finds himself scrabbling around for the commoner species like all of us. Cliff remarked today that it was ridiculous that he was watching a Common Tern mobbing a Marsh Harrier...but was still waiting to add Blue Tit to his list. 

Elsewhere many people increased their Back Garden Bird Race 'personal bests'. Buzzards over Eastbourne, Rooks over Brighton and a wayward Cormorant were all 'new' birds on some people's garden lists. Incoming migrant birds were more noticeable in this week's results. There were more Swifts over Sussex and House Martins were back nesting under the eaves in one garden. I couldn't believe how many Starlings were gliding over my garden - an observation made in other gardens too. Whether you watching Peregrines, or Blackbirds feeding their chicks, I hope you all enjoyed the hour in the company of your local birds.

Bird race mock up

Photos from Melanie Ellis, Andrew Chandler-Grevatt, Andy Dinsdale, Sarah Bonnot-Tijhaar

So, here are the results from this week. Thank you again to everyone who took part and apologies for any omissions / errors. A huge thank you to Lois Mayhew from Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre for help with the data. 

Table Results 2604

Lois has also put together a list of all the birds recorded this week in order of most frequently recorded (red) to least frequently recorded (green)

Birds heat Thingy tworow

And, at the exact same time that we were searching for Sparrowhawks in the sun this morning, there were two other Back Garden Bird Racers 11,400 miles away and 12 hours ahead of us who were trying to add a very special bird to today's bird race results. 

Tom and Amy are in lockdown next to the Hauraki Gulf in New Zealand and in the evenings this week they have had a visitor to the wall next to their back garden.

It was a dark drizzly night on the North Island but Tom and Amy waited out in their garden. There were a couple of Spotted Doves sleeping in the trees.

Tom watching

But then something came waddling out of the waves. 

Penguin Amy

A Little Penguin!

(Photos by Amy Ockenden)

Thanks again to everyone who took part. We'll do it again next week. I'll have to keep an eye on the weather as I may have to change the day to Saturday if Sunday's forecast is wet. I'll let you know via the website, diary and Facebook page on Thursday. 

And finally congratulations to Sue and Bob Walton who were celebrating their 40th Wedding Anniversary today.

Sue still took part in today's race sat in her 'bird hide' (otherwise known as a Fiat 500 Abarth) watching the bird feeders.

Here's Sue celebrating (and counting Starlings and sparrows) with a glass of Bucks Fizz.


Sue Walton

Leave a comment


  • Louise:

    Thank you for the summary. It was great to take part and I love the efforts to get a penguin. See you next week.

    26 Apr 2020 18:40:00

  • Steve Funnell:

    Great fixture to have each week. The frequent sightings list is really useful and makes for interesting reading seeing what else is around.

    26 Apr 2020 19:04:00

  • Patrick Bonham:

    Next time, give Cliff just 5 minutes (10.00-10.05) – though with his scope trained on Pett Level (and a brilliant ear for garden birds) he’d probably still win!

    28 Apr 2020 10:36:00