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.
Thank you to everyone who joined in today's (second) Back Garden Bird Race.
We had a lot more people join in this week which is good to see
...and a few surprise entries.
Dr Barry Yates won last week's race, but this week I had paid his wife Anne to lock him in the airing cupboard and instead Anne took part in the race - her "first ever bird count" (and she turned in a respectable score from their Rye garden and recorded the only Curlew on this week's survey).
Today's winner was Cliff Dean with an amazing score of 40 from his garden overlooking the Pett Levels. His list was House Sparrow, Robin, Jackdaw, Blackbird, Green Woodpecker, Blackcap, Blue Tit, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Buzzard, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Pheasant. Chiffchaff, Black-headed Gull, Cormorant, Red Kite, Mallard, Shelduck, Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Tufted Duck, Starling, Carrion Crow, Goldfinch, Raven, Collared Dove, Magpie, Rook, Marsh Harrier, Great Tit, Herring Gull, Song Thrush, Linnet, Great Black-backed Gull, Meditteranean Gull, Swallow, Mistle Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Common Gull.
(Although he missed out on Wren).
But for those of us who didn't have Marsh Harrier on the list the challenge was to try and beat last week's score. As Dave pointed out a lot of the winter birds have now left and the first of the summer birds are moving in so for many the 'flavour' of their garden list may have changed. Alan recorded the last of the Brambling heading north but others noticed there were more Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs moving back into gardens from the south.
Elsewhere the bird of the week for many was the first returning Swallows. Ryan at Knepp managed to snap this picture during the race of one of the first Swallows back from South Africa.
So here are this week's results. Again apologies if I have made any mistakes or left anybody out!
Many people remarked that it seemed a 'slower' week compared to last week and there were also a number of excuses for the lack of birds on some people's lists. So I've compiled them here.
This week's (anonymous) excuses
“My next-door neighbour is now mowing his lawn, so I can't hear anything!”
“Much quieter this week. Maybe I should don the dressing gown again and see if that makes a difference because the RSPB t-shirt clearly isn't doing it!”
“Might struggle this week, the bees are drowning out the birdsong!”
“I thought I wasn't taking part this week, but my sister who can't id any birds is, so now I'm attempting to identify birds with descriptors like "yellow beak, seems friendly”
“My bird song is dominated by the herring gulls that are nesting on our roof and they woke up at 4.17 this morning!!!”
“Not bad considering my father in law was harrowing paddocks and next door was cutting lawn with noisy mower!”
“Hindered by the fact we ran out of bird food yesterday, the cat insisted on helping and we are very new at this
“My mum phoned in the middle though!”
“Observation time slightly interrupted by shopping deliveries”
“Perhaps the birds are all sunbathing and not flying!
“Overslept, only spent about 20 mins looking”
“Great way to spend an hour, but post person drove too fast and scattered some of the birds”
“Neighbour's dogs yapping; now he's shouting at them. Through the bedlam I think I can hear a Coal Tit... It's only a matter of time before the garden machinery starts up...”
“After today I feel extremely confident that I can now recognise a Bosch Lawnmower anywhere”
“I had my neighbour's radio blaring for 10 minutes”
“I also heard a very rare Southern Rail train after 11!”
“So many noise interruptions from neighbour and husband”
We also had some guest birdwatchers from outside the UK who are also in lockdown in their own countries. Jane confused me when she sent in a list which started with Serin, Tree Sparrow and Redstart - until I realised she was in Northern Italy.
At the exact time that I was pacing my garden in Henfield, Nat was in his garden in Chumphon in Thailand recording Oriental Magpie-robin, Chinese Pond Heron and Red Junglefowl.
(Photos by Nat Ragsachat)
(I'd just like to point out that Nat is allowed to count Red Junglefowl on his list because they are native wild birds in Thailand. This doesn't mean that you can record their domesticated descendent, the chicken, next week. You're 8000 years too late)
And while I was trying to get a photo of a Sparrowhawk high in the sky (below left) Nat was trying to snap a photo of the Thai garden equivalent, the Shikra (below right).
And finally, as we were all enjoying birdwatching in the morning sunshine, across the world in New Zealand they were going to bed, although Roger and Sarah stayed up to join in the Back Garden Bird Race and recorded just one bird. It's a nocturnal bird native to New Zealand which, like our Chiffchaff says it's name with its song. Roger said,
"Not to miss out a Morepork (Ninox novaeseelandiae ) squeaked in, (well more of a 'moreporked in') at 10:58pm here in our South Island Bubble in the Upper Buller Gorge, New Zealand"
Morepork photo by Jake Osborne
So we'll end today's diary from Sussex with a Morepork moreporking on the other side of the world (click here to listen) - where everyone is just as locked down as we are - but still getting some enjoyment from a bit of birdwatching.
Thanks again for joining in today's race.