Corona Wildlife Diary: Day Thirty-nine

25 April 2020 | Posted in Michael Blencowe
Corona Wildlife Diary: Day Thirty-nine

We'll be running the Back Garden Bird Race tomorrow (Sunday 26 April) from 10:00-11:00

Full details can be found on the Back Garden Bird Race website here

You can leave your results in the comments section below this blog, on the Nature Table Facebook page or on our handy phone app (which is available on the website here).

Please try and leave your results before 1pm as we compile the results table and report between 1-5pm. Last week we were still getting results sent in on Wednesday.

We had hundreds of people joining in with the bird race last week. It's great to see so many people taking part and while a certain person who lives next door to a nature reserve keeps getting a high score it's great to see people just enjoying an hour in the garden, some of whom maybe identifying their garden birds for the first time. It's great to see others racing to beat their previous garden bird score. And, as I keep saying, it just puts a smile on my face during the darker days to think of all of you out there birdwatching with me at the same time.

Dave Kilbey has written a lovely blog all about his experience taking part in the Bird Races - you can read it here.

Dave's company Natural Apptitude designed and donated our great phone app. You can use it to enter and submit your records but many people have also commented how useful the app's bird song guide has been. Dave has added an ID guide to the app which has photos and descriptions of the 40 commonest British garden birds and you can listen to their calls too. 

I thought I'd focus on a few common bird songs here today so you can make a start at learning some songs - and maybe get a few extra points in tomorrow's race. Remember, if you can hear it you can count it!


These familiar birds are usually the first birds to strike-up in the dawn chorus. They sing in bursts of short, relaxed warbles, about 3-6 seconds long and each different from the last – so they’ve got quite a back catalogue to choose from. Their song sounds uplifting, inspiring and positive – a bit like a Vera Lynn tune. (By the way Dame Vera’s song ‘A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square’ was probably about a Robin singing in the evening – they sing in dim light and street lamps can set them off).  

Listen to the Robin singing here.

(and listen to Dame Vera singing here)

 400 Neil F

(Photo by Neil Fletcher)


The call is a repetitive ‘chink, chink, chink’ but their song is a descending series of notes which gets faster as it goes – usually with a little flourish at the end. Despite the fact that they proudly sing with their heads held high their song always makes me think of somebody really drunk, staggering forward, not quite falling over and managing to recover themselves at the last minute.

Listen to a Chaffinch singing here

400 chaf neil 

(Photo by Neil Fletcher)


Not so much a song; more of a tantrum. The Wren is the little bird with the big voice. A Wren opens its tiny beak and a 5 second warbling, rattling, trilling outburst explodes from it. After each outburst the Wren will wait a bit to catch its breath and then repeat the performance. Each song sounds similar and there’s always that trademark rattle in the middle somewhere. 

Listen to a Wren having a strop here

400 wren  derek mid

(Photo by Derek Middleton)


Doo-be-doo-be-doo, the Blackbird is the Sinatra of the dawn chorus; a relaxed, self-assured vocalist. Each phrase is a short warble like the Robin’s but with a deeper pitch and a warmer tone which tapers off in a faster, scratchy outro. The Blackbird’s varied repertoire of songs means he’s one of our most gifted songsters crooning to female Blackbird's "Come fly with me". But it's also a territorial tune that informs all other Blackbirds that he’s still “king of the hill, top of the heap”.  You could sit back and enjoy the performance whether late in the day, as the night falls, or in the wee small hours of the morning.

Listen to ol' Black bird here

And listen to ol' Blue Eyes here

400 Neil F

(Photo by Neil Fletcher)

And I'll play you out with this (of course).

Have a good weekend folks. 


  • Ginny-Vic:

    25 Apr 2020 08:56:00

    I love this! So informative and I actually get the difference. Please write more musical ones like this! Are there any bird rappers? I think I will use this inspiration for a lesson in the future. Also, my robin tea pot house from the shop is on the way! I hope my robin likes it!

  • Charlie M:

    25 Apr 2020 17:41:00

    Thanks Michael for such an uplifting and rewarding blog.

    I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s bird race. For pre-match training I’ve been trying to learn the calls of all those different gulls and doves/pigeons I might hear. It feels a bit like memorising every two letter word for scrabble (anybody having ‘za’ tonight?) but if it gives me an edge….

  • Beverley Coombes:

    26 Apr 2020 10:06:00

    From a Bexhill town centre balcony: 10 species today (one more than last week). Woodpigeon, feral pigeon, herring gull, robin, sparrow, blackbird, carrion crow, blue tit, magpie and a very loud great tit, determined to make himself heard over the traffic!

  • Whitakers, london Se9:

    26 Apr 2020 10:11:00

    13 species: robin, carrion crow, wood and feral pigeons, magpie, blue and great tits, house sparrow, starling, goldfinch, collared dove, blackbird, ring-necked parakeet. Lovely morning to be jusr sitting in the garden serenaded all the time by Dame Vera.

  • Bob Eade:

    26 Apr 2020 10:13:00

    Just 16 this week with the highlight being the wind in a slightly better direction that meant I could just hear the Skylarks in the distance!!

    Wood Pigeon, Blackbird, Goldfinch, Jackdaw, Starling, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Carrion Crow, Stock Dove, Magpie, Herring Gull, Robin, Collared Dove, Skylark, Great Tit, House Sparrow.
    A Greenfinch was seen 3 minutes early and the Chaffinch once again hid for the duration. No raptors at all either and the White Stork that flew over on Thursday surprisingly also stayed away!!

  • Alan, Lewes:

    26 Apr 2020 10:15:00

    Started off very quietly – I thought the birds had all broken lock-down rules, but finally managed 15 (3 heard but not seen), one less than last week:
    Jackdaw, Green Woodpecker, Starling, House Sparrow, Wren, Herring Gull, Blackbird, Collared Dove, Goldfinch, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Robin, Great Tit, Magpie, Dunnock.

  • Owen Douglas Hydes:

    26 Apr 2020 10:15:00

    Large garden in Mannings Heath with adjacent woods and field.
    Song thrush (eating a worm), Blackbird, Robin, Wren (heard but not seen), Great Spotted Woodpecker, Wood Pigeon, Nuthatch, Great Tit, Blue Tits (entering both our nest boxes), Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Rook, Magpie, Buzzard, Pheasant, Blackcap (heard but not seen), Dunnock.

  • Nigel Kemp:

    26 Apr 2020 10:15:00

    21 species from my Heathfield garden. Included my first Swift and House Martin of the year but the star of the hour was an overflying Peregrine (far too chunky for a Hobby).

  • Anne Hart:

    26 Apr 2020 10:19:00

    Hope it is OK to submit here.
    My list for Sunday 26th started quietly and then became v interesting.
    Wood Pigeon
    Mistle Thrush
    Blue Tit
    Great Tit
    Great Spotted Woodpecker
    Coal Tit
    Long Tailed Tit
    Green Woodpecker
    Song Thrush
    21 species
    Many thanks, Michael

  • Alan Parker:

    26 Apr 2020 10:20:00

    Fairlight Cliffs: With my last two efforts producing 23 species, just 18 this morning reflected a quiet time on the clifftop, looking inland .However, they were : Robin, Blackbird, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Goldfinch, House Sparrow, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Blue Tit, Dunnock, Whitethroat, Linnet, Meadow Pipit, Wren, Swallow, Collared Dovr, Stonechat, Jackdaw.
    So best today was Stonechat, a male that is usually on the Firehills where they breed, but sometimes sings in our gadrens.

  • Simon Linington:

    26 Apr 2020 10:21:00

    Hi Michael, 26 species (19 seen and 7 heard) during the hour this morning:

    Pheasant (heard)
    Herring Gull
    Collared Dove
    Great Spotted Woodpecker (heard)
    Wren (heard)
    Blue Tit
    Chaffinch (heard)
    Mallard (heard)
    Pied Wagtail
    Blackcap (heard)
    House Sparrow
    Magpie (heard)
    Bullfinch – a pair

    Also Holly Blue and male Large Red Damselfly. Many thanks for organising this birdwatch again. Regards, Simon

  • Vince Massimo:

    26 Apr 2020 10:22:00

    Results from Crawley:

    1. House Sparrow
    2. Wood Pigeon
    3. Starling
    4. Common Gull
    5. Jackdaw
    6. Goldfinch
    7. Jay
    8. Herring Gull
    9. Buzzard
    10. Feral Pigeon
    11. Blackbird
    12. Blue-tit
    13. Carrion Crow

    A lovely morning, but a bit slow. Seem to have a threshold of 13-14 species here at any given time.

  • c hydes:

    26 Apr 2020 10:23:00

    Hello everyone from Walberton. I’m stuck on 21 species, but still no chaffinches. Highlights were kestrel and fly-over heron.
    carrion crow
    collared dove
    herring gull
    great spotted woodpecker (heard)
    green woodpecker (heard)
    great tit (heard)
    blue tit

  • Nicola:

    26 Apr 2020 10:23:00

    Six on my list for today’s race, seen in suburban Worthing:
    Herring gull
    House sparrow

  • Colin & Janet Holter:

    26 Apr 2020 10:24:00

    From our garden in Steyning.
    Blackbird, Crow, Jackdaw, Magpie, Starling, Robin, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Blue Tit, Buzzard, Great Tit, Rook, Swallow(1 distant).
    Heard: Dunnock, Wren, Stock Dove.
    18 species, down from 19 last week, & 23 the week before. Have the impression that everything goes a bit quiet between 10-11, seems to be more going on between 9-10!
    Colin & Janet Holter.

  • Allan Maddocks:

    26 Apr 2020 10:32:00

    Back Garden Bird Race
    Offington , Worthing

    Blue tit
    Wood Pidgeon
    Herring Gull
    Carrion Crow
    Feral Pidgeon
    Collard Dove
    House Sparrow
    Sparrow Hawk
    20 in total which is 3 more than last week but no Wren this week.

  • EdandBarbs:

    26 Apr 2020 10:36:00

    Thanks for this weekly delivery from gloom. Much appreciated. We got 23 species today. Goldcrest, wren, blue tit, great tit, goldfinch, chaffinch, blackcap, sparrow, dunnock, robin, songthrush, blackbird, starling, skylark, collared dove, w.pigeon, jackdaw, rook, buzzard, herring gull, g.s.woodpecker, crow, house martin (1 only).

    Families move on…..the songthrushes and blackbirds have left their nests, the doves are mating and the blackcap is now taking the competition seriously and having a regular sing-off against his rival at the front. I think the one at the back is a newcomer, perhaps migrated the old long way round?
  • Sally Watson:

    26 Apr 2020 10:37:00

    Bird Race results from Hellingly BN27: Robin, Blackcap, Blackbird, Wren, Wood Pigeon, Chiffchaff, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Blue tit, Great spotted Woodpecker, Crow, Pheasant, Nuthatch, Magpie, Great tit, Goldcrest, Buzzard (total 17, 3 less than last week) Must improve my birdsong identification. Most enjoyable, thank you

  • Chris Brown:

    26 Apr 2020 10:47:00

    Thanks for organising this again Michael.
    Two Coal Tits were nice this time.
    Chris Brown – Brighton
    Herring Gull
    2. Robin
    3. Magpie
    4. Dunnock
    5. House Sparrow
    6. Wood Pigeon
    7. Wren
    8. Blackbird
    9. Starling
    10. Carrion Crow
    11. Collared Dove
    12. Feral Pigeon
    13. Blue Tit
    14. Goldfinch
    15. Coal Tit
    16. Great Tit
    17. Common Buzzard
    18. Jackdaw

  • Ant tester:

    26 Apr 2020 10:53:00

    Looking across from wepham to arundel park …raven,buzzard,starling,greenfinch,moorhen ,coot,blackcap,chiffchaff,robin,mallard,rook,great tit chaffinch,swallow,housemartin,cdunnock,blue tit,collard dove,housesparrow,song thrush,pheasent,blackheaded gull,pied wagtail stock dove, cuckoo(calling) skylark(singing) gadwall,blackbird,jackdaw,carion crow,wren wood pidgeon mute swan goldfinch……34 sightings

  • Ting Plaskett:

    26 Apr 2020 10:54:00

    BGBR 26/04 – 12 birds, more or less! I can just about identify anything that lands; otherwise it’s mostly guesswork. But it’s so good to set aside an hour to enjoy all the sights and sounds. Many thanks for organising this, especially for compiling the results. (App login button unresponsive at this attempted second use.)

  • Liz C:

    26 Apr 2020 10:56:00

    20 today so one more than last week. Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Dunnock, Goldfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Magpie, Mistle Thrush, Nuthatch, Robin, Rook, Song Thrush, Starling, Woodpigeon, Wren. Thanks Michael.

  • Alan, Lewes, again:

    26 Apr 2020 10:57:00

    11.42 A grey heron landed on the top of the conifers at the bottom of our garden and stayed there for 5 minutes. Don’t suppose I can include it in my count!

  • John G:

    26 Apr 2020 10:57:00

    John G from Woodmancote.Sunday’ list
    Wood pigeon
    Great Tit
    Song Thrush
    Blue tit, nesting in box
    Great spotted Woodpecker, heard drumming
    Heron overhead
    House Martins ,at least 8: nesting in eaves
    Moorhen on pond
    Mallard on pond
    Moorhen on pond
    Total 14

  • Margaret:

    26 Apr 2020 11:12:00

    From Wales. 19 again swapping last week’s starlings for this week’s raven. Saw swallows in the week – not today.
    collared dove
    greater spotted woodpecker
    great tit

  • Patrick Bonham:

    26 Apr 2020 11:25:00

    Hi Michael – I reckon the overall total last Sunday was at least 95 species. My results today (21 species, same as last week):
    Buzzard, Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull
    Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Stock Dove, Collared Dove
    Green Woodpecker, Wren, Robin, Blackbird
    Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit
    Carrion Crow, Rook, Jackdaw, Magpie
    Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch

  • Lizzie:

    26 Apr 2020 11:40:00

    I joined in for the first time this morning. This is my list
    Great tit
    Blue tit
    Wood pigeon

  • Kathryn Van Howe:

    01 May 2020 16:53:00

    Please can you tell us the name of the app for birdsong ID which Dave created? Many thanks for all of this and for the daily-must-read diary!

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