This weekend's Back Garden Bird Race will be tomorrow, Sunday 24 May (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, on the Facebook page or in the phone app.
Bird race in style with our snazzy Back Garden Bird Race t-shirts (here)
The highlight of last week's Back Garden Bird Race for me was the spectacle of a low-flying Hobby barrelling through the cul-de-sac. . This bird would have flown all the way from the Congo Basin for this fly-past and it was a real thrill to see.
(Hobby Photo by Roger Wilmshurst)
Hobbies look debonair and dashing. With their black ‘eye mask’ and drooping ‘moustache’ there’s a touch of Zorro about them. And, like that enigmatic swordsman, Hobbies are famed for their speed and dexterity. Superficially the Hobby looks similar to the Peregrine which along with the Kestrel makes up the trio of falcons that breed in Sussex. But Peregrines are very different birds; they're up to four times heavier than a Hobby. Peregrines hunt by putting their weight behind their attack whereas Hobbies use aerial agility and acceleration; the ninja to the Peregrine’s sumo.
(Hobby. Photo by Radovan Vaclav)
Its unfortunate victims are the reason for the Hobby’s 4000 mile journey from Africa and the reason for they are one of the last migrant birds to raise a family. The late birth of the hungry Hobby chicks is perfectly synchronised with their food supply which is most abundant in the Sussex skies in July and August. Hobbies specialise in catching the uncatchable; swallows, martins, swifts and dragonflies - all accomplished aviators themselves who probably thought that they were invincible whilst airborne. Watching a Hobby hunting is watching an accomplished predator at work. Their slender scimitar wings slice the air as they twist, turn and tumble to pluck their victims from the sky in their talons.
(Juvenile Hobby. Photo by Bob Eade)
If you’ve been on a wildlife walk with me you’ve probably already heard my favourite piece of Hobby trivia.
In 1946 Mr Peter Adolph of Langton Green, Kent had an idea. Presumably, with that surname, the preceding seven years had been a tough time for Mr Adolph, but now he was free to unleash his incredible invention upon the world.
Now, I have never had any interest in football. How anyone finds a bunch of men kicking a ball up and down a field interesting amazes me. Mr Adolph’s invention was equally as baffling; a game which involved flicking wobbly model footballers up and down a tabletop. This game, he insisted, would be a great hobby for boys and he named his invention just that ‘Hobby’. But when it came to registering the name the Patents Office said that ‘Hobby’ was too general a term, he needed a more specific name.
So, as he couldn't call it 'Hobby', Mr Adolph, a keen birdwatcher, took the scientific name from his favourite falcon instead.
And that's how the agile Hobby (Scientific name: Falco subbuteo) gave its name to a bestselling game and became forever linked to wet Saturday afternoons flicking headless Crystal Palace midfielders around the dining room.
I'm aware that some readers will be upset that today's scheduled F.A. Cup Final has had to be cancelled.
However you can re-create some of the action and excitement of the F.A. Cup thanks to Mr Adolph's Subbuteo and by watching this clip (here) from the 2:15 mark. Looks just as thrilling as the real thing if you ask me.