Corona Wildlife Diary: Day Sixteen

, 02 April 2020
Corona Wildlife Diary: Day Sixteen

As the world shuts down around us the uplifting role that wildlife plays in our lives becomes more vital than ever. So, for my own sanity as much as anything, I’m going to keep a daily diary of what I find around my garden. Photograph the wildlife you can see from your window or in your garden and post your pictures on the ‘Sussex Wildlife Trust Nature Table’ page.

Day Sixteen

In the kitchen cupboard above the kettle lives the soy sauce, Oxo cubes and lots of half-used spices. In there you'll also find an A4 piece of card covered in excited scribbling: My Garden Bird List. It hasn't seen the light of day for a while so today I thought I'd present it to the entire world. 

I started filling in this list on a cold New Years Day about eight years ago.

Now, if you're going to have a Garden Bird List you need some rules.

1) Only birds that are actually seen in the garden actually make it onto the list. So that means on my side of the fences and up to the height of the roof. If any bird so much as puts a primary feather in to that area it's on the list.

2) Birds flying over the house don't count. I know some people include flyovers on their garden list but, c'mon, that's just ridiculous. A Peregrine a mile up in the clouds is hardly in your garden and I'd look ridiculous claiming that I have Mute Swans, Cormorants, Ospreys and Curlews as garden birds. No. If they're over they're out (although I do keep a note of them out of interest). 

3) I make the rules so I'm allowed to bend them a bit.

So, here's the list. In eight years we've had 47 (and a half) bird species in the garden. Which I think is pretty good for a small, suburban garden. The list is (sort of) in the order that I saw them and I've annotated some of the more unusual sightings just to prove to you that I'm not making this stuff up.

I've just realised that the last addition to the list was about four years ago. Maybe in the coming weeks I'll see something new that'll get me reaching for the spice cupboard. That would be really cool.

Anyway, I'd be interested to know about other peoples garden lists - or just unusual birds that you've seen in your garden that aren't on my list. Let me know in the comments below or on the Facebook group.

My Garden Bird List 

1. Starling

1 Nigel Sym

Photo: Nigel Symington

2 Blue Tit

2 Bob Eade

Photo: Bob Eade

3. Great Tit

3 Nigel Sym

Photo: Nigel Symington

4. Coal Tit

coal tit

Photo: Neil Fletcher

5. Long-tailed Tit

5 Bob Eade

Photo: Bob Eade

6. Goldcrest

6 Alan Price

Photo: Alan Price

7. Fieldfare

7 Toby Houlton

Photo: Toby Houlton

8. Sparrowhawk

8 Alan Price

Photo: Alan Price

9. Blackbird

9 Neil Fletcher

Photo: Neil Fletcher

10. Song Thrush

10 Darin Smith

Photo: Darin Smith

11 Wren

11 Peter Brooks

Photo: Peter Brooks

12 Robin

12 James Duncan

Photo: James Duncan

13 Dunnock

13 Neil Fletcher

Photo: Neil Fletcher

14 Green Woodpecker

14 Derek

Photo: Derek Middleton

15 Great-spotted Woodpecker

15 Nicholas watts

Photo: Nicholas Watts

16 Blackcap

16 Roger

Photo: Roger Wilmshurst

17 Waxwing

Yep, well this made it worth buying a house with a garden attached to it. During that Waxing invasion about 7 years ago I prayed and prayed that one of these beauties would show up. Then one morning my prayers were answered for about seven seconds. One landed in the tree in the neighbours garden but the branch definitely bent under the weight of this stocky bird and it drooped into my garden briefly.

17 Bob Eade

Photo: Bob Eade

18 Chaffinch

18 Nigel Sym

Photo: Nigel Symington

19 Greenfinch

19 Neil Fletcher

Photo: Neil Fletcher

20 Goldfinch

20 Bob Eade

Photo: Bob Eade

21 Reed Bunting

During a harsh winter a small flock of Reed Buntings became daily visitors feeding on the seed under the bird table.

21 Matthew Caig

Photo: Matthew Caig

22 Pied Wagtail

22 Derek Middleton

Photo: Derek Middleton

23 Jay

23 Neil Fletcher

Photo: Neil Fletcher

24 Jackdaw

Jackdaw (Corvus monedula)

Phoot: Roger Wilmshurst

25 Woodpigeon

Wood-pigeon (Columba palumbus)

Photo: Roger Wilmshurst

26 Collared Dove

26 Neil

Photo: Neil Fletcher

27 Nuthatch

27 David Ball

Photo: David Ball

28 Mistle Thrush

28 Neil

Photo: Neil Fletcher

29 Magpie

29 Roger Wilmshurst

Photo: Roger Wilmshurst

30 Chiffchaff

30  Derek Middleton

Photo: Derek Middleton

31 Bullfinch

31 Nicholas Watts

Photo: Nicholas Watts

32 Redwing

32 Dave Sadler

Photo: Dave Sadler

33 House Sparrow

33 Neil Fletcher

Photo: Neil Fletcher

34 Lesser Redpoll

34 Alan Price

Photo: Alan Price / Gatehouse Studio

35 Carrion Crow

35 Roger W

Photo: Roger Wilmshurst

36 Woodcock

During a few days of snow I saw a medium sized, brown bird with pointed wings fly low over the garden and drop down just over the neighbour's fence. Thinking it was a Sparrowhawk with prey I snuck up to the fence peered over and... there was a Woodcock staring at me. Not sure which one of us was most surprised.

36 Craig Nash

Photo: Craig Nash

37 Grey Wagtail

37 Bob Eade

Photo: Bob Eade

38 Siskin

38 Dave Kilbey

Photo: Dave Kilbey

39 Common Pheasant

I know some people would say that this is a slightly controversial addition to the list because they are farmed birds but we had a pheasant in the garden for a few months. It seemed to live at the back by the compost heap. So it's on the list as an introduced resident.

39 Roger W

Photo: Roger Wilmshurst

40 Black Redstart

Ooh, this was nice. Pulled up into the drive and a Black Redstart was sat on the roof. I realised that my strict garden rules meant that the roof of the house was the cut off point for my garden recording area. But I figured the Redstart's feet were touching the roof so it got in on a technicality.

40 Peter Brooks

Photo: Peter Brooks

41 Willow Warbler

Waited a while for one of these and kept checking the Chiffchaffs every spring and autumn and finally one turned up in the willow (of course).

41 Peter Brooks

Photo: Peter Brooks

42 Treecreeper

At last! Waited years for a Treecreeper to sneak into the garden and eventually one spent a few minutes creeping up the bark of the neighbour's willow and then across onto the other neighbour's apple tree. But when it flew between the two it was irrefutably in my garden.

42 James

Photo: James Duncan

43 Lesser Whitethroat

I love Lesser Whitethroats so was thrilled to have one singing in the garden for about ten minutes one spring. It was just passin' through.

43 Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca) (2)

Photo: Ken Billington

44 Tawny Owl

You can hear Tawny Owls all the time from the garden but catching one in the garden was going to be tricky. One night after a barbecue I was sat in the garden with some mates and one swooped in low through my airspace.

44 Darin Smith

Photo: Darin Smith

45 Common Whitethroat

Watched a Common Whitethroat while it fed in the wildflower meadow one summer day. Yet another benefit of a wildflower meadow.

45 Roger

Photo: Roger Wilmshurst

46 Turtle Dove

My finest hour. Well, my finest quarter of an hour. An actual Turtle Dove in my garden feeding on the seeds in the wildflower meadow. I'm going to have to write an entire diary entry about this I think. Too amazing to capture in a few lines.

46 Matthew Caig

Photo: Matthew Caig

47 Grey Heron

Walking home from work and I saw this huge bird lifting up from the back garden. It must have seen the pond, landed and, after realising that I'd let the pond get overgrown, it headed somewhere nicer.

47 Neil

Photo: Neil Fletcher

47 ½ Mallard

OK, well I realise that this is a controversial addition to the list. But see Rule 3 (above). This was buried by a Fox in the compost heap. So technically in the garden although it was definitely technically dead. And missing it's entire upper half. I did get a photo of it though.


And here are the birds that I have seen (or heard) from the garden. 


Herring Gull, Osprey, Curlew, Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Mute Swan, Cormorant, Stock Dove, House Martin, Swallow, Rook, Buzzard, Black Headed Gull, Kestrel, Lapwing, Little Egret, Red Kite, Swift, Linnet, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Sand Martin, Meadow Pipit, Peregrine, Skylark, Yellowhammer, Shelduck, Raven, Hobby, Peacock.

Heard from garden:

Barn Owl, Cuckoo, Nightingale.  

Leave a comment


  • El:

    A great read. I need to make more of an effort to identify the birds in my back garden and I will from now on!

    02 Apr 2020 06:18:00

  • Sally:

    Great list. Now I know what’s what from the pictures I can make my own list. I walk at west wittering beach every evening. Last night I saw a robin but also saw some white/black birds in the mud as the tide was changing long beak.

    02 Apr 2020 06:32:00

  • Polly:

    Thank you – great ID list too, love the photos – I now know what the funny sparrows are in our garden. (Chiff chaffs as it turns out). Yesterday I was washing up and saw – a robin, a goldfinch, a woodpidgeon, a bluetit, a blackbird, a starling… All in the garden at once!!! It was lovely. Like illustration on front of bird book. Also had waxwings that winter. And had a beautiful pheasant on kitchen roof in middle of Lewes two weeks ago- we both froze when I opened curtain..

    02 Apr 2020 08:22:00

  • John:

    We lived in the Isle of Man for nearly thirty years (my wife being one of those ‘Manxies’). In our garden there we had most of your list apart from the woodpeckers and those ‘Warblery’ birds. Our garden in Steyning is much less well populated, I am afraid persuading my wife to make her garden more like yours is a lost cause! We do have a nice wild field next door so there is hope. btw your talk at the AGM was brilliant, how will they follow it next year? Maybe you have time to prepare the 2020 talk at the moment.

    02 Apr 2020 09:37:00

  • Heather Ann Booth:

    I once had a moor hen in my garden. It was scrambling about in the garrya bush near the bird feeder. I didn’t have a pond and there isn’t one near by. Also a couple of red legged partridges last autumn. Again like the pheasant a farmed bird but they were wandering about my garden for quite a while. One later turned up dead in the front garden. I wondered if it had flown into the window.

    02 Apr 2020 11:10:00

  • Grace Davies:

    Yes, please. Do write an entry on the Turtle Dove.

    02 Apr 2020 11:11:00

  • Christine Dafter:

    I have spent the last four days catching up on all 16 of your blogs. Wonderful, so interesting , funny and full of detail. As someone has suggested, a book MUST follow surely? Now I am hooked I will be looking forward to reading your blog every day. Thanks Michael.

    02 Apr 2020 15:17:00

  • Holly Fogg:

    This is really interesting and a great list. Over the years I have had a good variety of visitors but currently robin, blackbird, dunnock, blue, great and coal tits, jackdaw, collared dove, wood pigeon, sparrow, starling, magpie as regulars.

    02 Apr 2020 15:20:00

  • Ginny-Vic:

    Well, I knew I had a robin because I see it hop along the floor and now I’ve seen this very informative list with handy pictures I’m pretty sure I have either a blue tit or a great tit. Maybe I will start a list tomorrow. That would be fun. Thanks!

    02 Apr 2020 21:45:00