Well it was certainly a bit cold out there in the garden today. Despite the grey skies and low temperature I was surprised to see a distant Buzzard lazily circling on the warm thermals. Meanwhile I was wishing I had put on my warn thermals.
But the cold weather that was giving me the chills was the same cold weather that was responsible for pushing two new Back Garden Bird Race sightings onto my list. A Fieldfare fresh in from the frozen north of Europe landed in the willow with it's slightly sinister cackling call (listen here). Then, near the end of the race a pair of Redwing flew overhead. I was alerted too them by their flight call, that thin whistle (listen here). (Don't forget you can learn more about these winter thrushes in James Duncan's talk on Wednesday afternoon. Click here to register).
Elsewhere Simon recorded a Firecrest in his garden while Margaret had some lovely views of a Treecreeper. She noted "Most exciting viewing was the Treecreeper. All the way up one trunk, then, following his strict one-way system, began again at the bottom of the next. I don’t see it often but I don’t suppose I spend a lot of time staring at tree trunks". Sally watched a Nuthatch hiding sunflower seeds, closely followed by a Coal Tit who would uncover & eat them.
Redwing were noted in some gardens - this one was photographed by Ryan Greaves.
Owen noted plenty of Redwing around his garden on a "cold, dank morning in Mannings Heath" but a nice surprise for him was the appearance of a Reed Bunting. Clare managed to photograph her unusual Reed Bunting. These birds are pushed into gardens more frequently in the winter as they search for seed.
Reed Bunting photographed by Clare Elmes
Colin and Janet saw a Redwing too and were treated with "an unexpected flyover Red Kite just as Steyning village clock struck 10’o‘clock".
In Pevensey Bay John viewed some Turnstones from his garden window and others recorded MarshTit in their gardens for the first time. It was a bit murky above the Pett Levels which hampered Cliff's progress - although he still scored an impressive 31. The distant large white bird on the marsh hidden by the mist could have been a Great White Egret or a Spoonbill.
This month Cliff was overtaken by Jane and Craig in Staplefield who achieved their highest ever Back Garden Bird Race score of 36. “Our best yet!" said Jane "This is what happens when all the regulars show up during the same hour. We had so much fun”. Their list was
Blackbird, Blackcap, Blue Tit, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Collared Dove, Dunnock, Goldfinch, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Green Woodpecker, Jackdaw, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Mistle Thrush, Nuthatch, Pheasant, Pied Wagtail, Robin, Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Woodpigeon, Wren, Black-headed Gull, Egyptian Goose, Grey Heron, Greylag Goose, Herring Gull, Mallard, Marsh Tit, Redwing, Rook, Stock Dove.
So here are everybody's scores from the 17th Back Garden Bird Race. A BIG thank you as always to Lois Mayhew of Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre for sorting out the scores.
It's been a long, long year and we're going to run one more Back Garden Bird Race and then take a break for a while.
So we're going to invite you to join us with any leftover mince pies on Sunday 27 December 10-11 for one more race and so we can say goodbye to 2020.
See you then!