Corona Wildlife Diary: Day Ninety-five

20 June 2020 | Posted in Michael Blencowe
Corona Wildlife Diary: Day Ninety-five

The final weekly Back Garden Bird Race will be tomorrow, Sunday 21 June (10-11). It'll be an emotional hour but we'll take a break and then we'll be back to run them each month.

So why not look out of the window and let us know what you see between 10-11.

All the information, rules, I.D guides and downloadable phone app is on the Bird Race website here.

You can leave your results in the comments section below today's diary (before 1pm please) on the Facebook page or in the phone app. Bird race in style with our snazzy Back Garden Bird Race t-shirts (here).

I'll post the results on the the diary tomorrow afternoon.

Day Ninety-five

Well, there's only five days left of the daily diary - so I had to squeeze in one last moth trap survey.

This time I thought it might be fun to film myself opening the moth trap and showing you some of the lepidopteral highlights within. 

It turns out it wasn't fun at all. 

I was really fiddly trying to handle the eggboxes and moths and a camera... and then I had to sit down and edit it all together, which was also annoying as I had never done that sort of thing before.

Anyway, never mind me complaining - there were some incredible moths in the trap. See for yourself.

One of the most amazing moths in the trap was the Buff-tip.

I mean, just look at this moth...


This must surely be one of the best examples of camouflage in the entire world. I took this photo a few years back of a Buff-tip next to some Silver Birch twigs.

Buff tip

Just look at how well the colours and patterns match the twigs. If I ever need reminding of how amazing this planet is I just look at that photo. It blows my mind.

And...just look at its little face


And their camouflage must be working because they are a relatively common moth. You probably have them in your garden - not that you'd notice of course. Their caterpillars are much more obvious; chunky things which feed communally. I photographed these in September last year. 





They always remind me of Rupert the Bear's trousers. 

Weird and wonderful. I love 'em. 

Hmmm, I only know one song about camouflage. So, here's a strange story from the jungles of Vietnam (here)


  • Mary:

    20 Jun 2020 09:45:00

    That video was brilliant, thank you, it was worth all your hard work!

  • Robin Harris:

    20 Jun 2020 12:24:00

    As always, great stuff, Michael

  • Gordon McGoochan:

    20 Jun 2020 12:44:00

    Another fascinating blog and video, thanks again Michael. I will really miss them when you finish.

  • Ginny-Vic:

    20 Jun 2020 13:23:00

    This is fascinating! Honestly, I thought this diary was going to be on twigs! Thank you so much for letting us take part in the moth trap and all the extra trouble to edit it. It was really exciting. I love the aura of the moth trap in the garden and was slightly expecting to see ET on a bicycle in the background in the opening shot! I can’t believe how friendly all the moths are on landing on your hand. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any in the garden but now I know all the camouflage tricks I’ll go and have another look. I will miss this blog so much next week!

  • Nigel Kemp:

    21 Jun 2020 10:14:00

    15 species at Heathfield. Drizzle and breezy for most of the hour but brightening from the west in the last 15 mins. Still, I’m not the sort of athlete that drops out of the race when the medal places are out of reach and I was pleased to get past my lowest score.
    Blackbird, House Sparrow, Herring Gull, Jackdaw, Goldfinch, Carrion Crow, Swift, Starling, Greenfinch, Wood Pigeon, Wren, Great Tit, Robin, Collared Dove, Blue Tit.

  • Whitakers, london Se9:

    21 Jun 2020 10:14:00

    BGBC: 15 species, so not the PB we hoped for poss due to weather conditions and absence of small regs but it’s been great taking part (Collared dove, wood & feral pigeons, blue tit, robin, starling, house sparrow, crow, magpie, swift, herring gull, LBBGull, jackdaw, blackbird, goldfinch). Wot no r/n parakeets! – must’ve slung their ‘ook to rob those Sussex bird feeders! “Ha ha! Squawk-squawk!”

  • Owen and Ciaran Hydes:

    21 Jun 2020 10:16:00

    After slow start in Mannings Heath, managed to equal bird race best of 22 when the sun came out. First time for a swift in the race. Full list: blue tit, great tit, wood pigeon, magpie, blackbird, carrion crow, chaffinch, herring gull, song thrush (heard), jackdaw, goldfinch (heard), greenfinch, robin, great spotted woodpecker, buzzard, blackcap (heard), marsh tit, swift, nuthatch, dunnock, wren and jay. Many thanks Michael for organising the weekly races over the last few months. Will look forward to participating in the new monthly race.

  • Anne Hart:

    21 Jun 2020 10:17:00

    Lower score at rural Crowborough.
    Not helped by the squirrels and a sparrowhawk.

    Wood Pigeon
    Great Spotted Woodpecker
    Blue Tit
    Marsh Tit
    Great Tit
    Carrion Crow
    Herring Gull
    Stock Dove
    14 species
    Thank you, Michael.
    Look forward to monthly Bird Races, in due course.

  • Alan, Lewes:

    21 Jun 2020 10:19:00

    The rain seems to have brought out a few more than the last couple of weeks.
    13 this week: Herring Gull, Magpie, Jackdaw, House Sparrow, Robin, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Woodpigeon, Starling, Carrion Crow, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Collared Dove

  • Sally Watson:

    21 Jun 2020 10:20:00

    Last Bird Race, from Hellingly: Robin, Chiffchaff, Garden Warbler, Great Tit, Wood pigeon, Blue Tit, Herring Gull, Magpie, Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Gt Spotted Woodpecker, Swallow, House sparrow, Wren Total 14 (lowest to date, rain and wind did not help)
    Thank you so much for organising the Bird Races – I will miss it on Sunday mornings.

  • Evelyn:

    21 Jun 2020 10:21:00

    Great Spotted Woodpecker
    Blue Tit
    Great Tit
    Marsh Tit
    Herring Gull
    Wood Pigeon
    Garden Warbler
    Coal Tit
    Black Cap
    Total of 15 seen/heard in Brightling garden. Very quiet at the start – a Herring Gull is always a sign of bad weather here.

  • Robin Harris:

    21 Jun 2020 10:35:00

    The star of the show was surely the Nuthatch making a first appearance on the Bird Race Show. A red-topped Great Spotted Woodpecker dominated the peanuts for a while (didn’t our milk used to come in red-topped bottles?). The cloudy, damp and breezy weather failed to suppress the noisy constant chatter of the as-always-impossible-to-count, ever-moving House Sparrows. Cast in order of appearance :- House Sparrow, Blue Tit, Starling, Herring Gull, Goldfinch, Dunnock, Jackdaw, Wood Pigeon, Blackbird, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Greenfinch, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Song Thrush, Collared Dove, Magpie, Carrion Crow and Robin. 18 species – two up on last week.
    Thank you, Michael, for orchestrating this most enjoyable event. Hopefully, we’ll all meet again in a month.

  • Colin and Janet Holter:

    21 Jun 2020 10:39:00

    From our rather breezy Steyning garden this morning:
    1. House Sparrow
    2. Chaffinch (heard)
    3. Goldfinch
    4. Dunnock
    5. Herring Gull
    6. Blue Tit
    7. Wood Pigeon
    8. Blackbird
    9. Magpie
    10. Wren (heard)
    11. Swift
    12. Buzzard
    13. Jackdaw
    14. Rook
    15. Starling
    16. Great Tit
    17. Blackcap (heard)
    18. Kestrel
    19. Song Thrush (heard)
    20. Skylark (heard)
    21. Swallow
    22. Grey Heron
    23. Greenfinch
    24. Stock Dove
    25. Long-tailed Tit
    26. Mistle Thrush
    26 species, slightly above average total to finish on.
    Thank you so much Michael for all the Sunday morning Birdraces, and all the informative and entertaining blogs, much appreciated during the lockdown.
    You deserve a nice long sit in the garden with a tequila!

  • Simon Linington:

    21 Jun 2020 10:41:00

    At 0700 this morning, I thought the chances of getting past a total of five species this morning was slim given the wet, breezy conditions. I’m not sure how you arrange it, Michael, but just before 1000, the rain stopped here in Barcombe and soon after there was sun and blue sky allowing me to record 26 species (all but one seen) during the hour:

    Wren (heard only)
    Collared Dove
    Blue Tit
    Great Tit
    Blackcap (seen for a change)
    Herring Gull
    House Martin
    Bullfinch (male)
    House Sparrow
    Black-headed Gull (first over garden since early April)
    Great Spotted Woodpecker
    ……..and leaving the best until last, Crossbill (two flew over west giving their ‘chip, chip’ call just before 1100)

    As for the statistics: 47 species recorded during the 12 watches with weekly totals of 24, 22, 25, 26, 23, 27, 25, 24, 27, 24, 26, 26 giving an average of 25. Species seen every week = 11 (23%) and species seen in only one week = 9 (19%).

    Anyway, thank you for organising these watches which have been both enjoyable and instructive. Also thanks to those (Lois et al) that have analysed the results. Best wishes, Simon

  • Patrick Bonham:

    21 Jun 2020 10:44:00

    Drizzle in Rye until 11.00 when the sun came out! Limped in with 18 including Cormorant and Song Thrush but no Blue Tit, Magpie or Chaffinch. Many thanks for keeping this up over 12 weekends!

  • Ralph Gilbert:

    21 Jun 2020 10:46:00

    Woodmancote. Sunday 21 st June

    Blue Tit
    Tufted Duck.
    Great Spotted Woodpecker
    Wood pigeon
    Grey Wagtail
    House Sparrow
    Pied Wagtail with young
    15 total

  • Martin Buck:

    21 Jun 2020 10:51:00

    Half normal numbers in cuckfield. 8. Wood pigeon, collared dove. Dunnock, blue tit, herring gull, greenfinch, blackbird, house sparrow..

  • Liz C:

    21 Jun 2020 11:10:00

    Thanks for the Bird Race, I have enjoyd it so much. It was very windy and the road was much busier ,so it was difficult to hear birdsong today. As I type this there is a noisy Great Spotted Woodpecker on the bird feeder, not present when required. Just 15 today: Blackbird, Blue Tit, Carrion Crow, Chiffchaff, Dunnock, Goldfinch, Great Tit, House Sparrow, Starling, Jackdaw, Magpie, Robin, Starling, Woodpigeon, Wren.

  • Chris Brown:

    21 Jun 2020 11:14:00

    Best race for my Brighton garden so far. Not in terms of numbers but in the form of a Nuthatch. First bird of the race and second ever garden record in 27 years :-)

    Michael – thanks for all the work put into this race and the entertaining blog.

    Chris Brown.

    1. Nuthatch
    2. Blue Tit
    3. Starling
    4. Great Tit
    5. House Sparrow
    6. Feral Pigeon
    7. Herring Gull
    8. Goldfinch
    9. Collared Dove
    10. Woodpigeon
    11. Robin
    12. Blackbird
    13. Coal Tit
    14. Carrion Crow
    15. Magpie
    16. Swift
    17. Jackdaw
    18. Dunnock
    19. Long-tailed Tit

  • 21 Jun 2020 11:35:00

    Back Garden Bird Race 21 June Just NE of Rye
    Amazed to get 30 species again in spite of drizzle and a strong wind for most of the time, which necessitated a move from my usual position to the verandah and limited distant views across the marsh. A surprising amount of birdsong still. Sad that this is the last one for a while.
    Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Woodpigeon, Blue Tit, Collard Dove, Black-headed Gull, Magpie, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Carrion Crow, Stock Dove, Shelduck, Wren, Lesser Whitethroat, Swift, Heron, Jackdaw, Goldcrest, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Cormorant, Feral Pigeon, Rook, Goldfinch, House Martin, Herring Gull, Starling, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Med. Gull, Mallard.

  • Margaret from Wales:

    21 Jun 2020 12:12:52

    A very poor show – torrential rain and mist not very helpful. the birds were sheltering as much as we were.
    Great tit
    Coal tit with a baby

    Thank you so much for all the care you’ve taken with this and the encouragement to get us out there concentrating. We’re hooked now.

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