The Back Garden Bird Race returns (Sunday 29 Nov, 10-11)

, 28 November 2020
The Back Garden Bird Race returns (Sunday 29 Nov, 10-11)

Well, here we are at the end of Lockdown #2 and we're bringing back another Back Garden Bird Race to keep you entertained. 

It's cold and dark now in Sussex but it's not as cold and as dark as the countries to the north and the east. Birds are being pushed to Sussex as the escape the freeze in their search for food. 

During this bird race look out for winter thrushes. You may see Redwing and Fieldfare but don't forget the Blackbird hopping around by the bird table could have come from Norway too.

(Don't forget to watch James Duncan's webinar this Tuesday afternoon all about Winter Thrushes. Register here )


Redwing (and Blackbird) photographed in a Sussex garden this week by Michael Howard.

Good luck! - and look out for those Waxwings!

The Back Garden Bird Race

Throughout the darker days of the Covid-19 pandemic our weekly Bird Race event gave a lot of people a reason to step out into the garden or stare out of their window and get away from the bleak news.

We asked people to note down every species of bird seen or heard from their garden or window between 10-11 on a Sunday. For many it provided a vital distraction during these challenging times and became the only fixture in a week where the days started to merge into one. It also gave us all the chance to enjoy our local wildlife, learn some bird i.d. and take part in a group activity while locked down in our homes.

We'll be running the monthly Bird Race again this Sunday (29 November) - same time (10-11) and same rules apply (see our Bird Race page here)

Everybody is welcome to take part - whether veteran Bird Racers or first timers. I'll dust off my Back Garden Bird Race t-shirt and will be racing live, as usual, on our Sussex Wildlife Trust Nature Table Facebook page.

You can join us there or leave your bird lists in the comments section below this blog (before 1pm please). I'll write a new blog post with the results and post it on Sunday afternoon (in the 'News' section of the SWT homepage

Leave a comment


  • Simon Garland:

    Great tit
    Blue tit
    House sparrow
    Hedge sparrow
    Wood pigeon

    RH12 1NA

    29 Nov 2020 11:05:00

  • Alan, Lewes:

    Plenty of activity at 9 a.m., but all gone by 10! Not even a blackbird or robin in sight, let alone fieldfare or redwing. Just eight species:
    House Sparrow, Herring Gull, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Jackdaw, Wood pigeon, Carrion Crow, Magpie.

    29 Nov 2020 11:07:00

  • G and C Hance:

    29th November Bird Race, in or over the garden – herring gull, wood pigeon, magpie, blackbird, house sparrow,
    starling and crow.

    29 Nov 2020 11:08:00

  • Margaret Ferriman:

    Margaret from Wales
    Lovely clear day. Surprised not get any buzzards or kites – or gulls.
    Our Great Tits seem to steer clear on bird race days. Most exciting viewing was the tree creeper. 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.
    17 today
    Mistle Thrush
    Blue tit
    Coal Tit
    Marsh tit
    Greater Spotted Woodpecker
    Tree Creeper

    29 Nov 2020 11:15:00

  • Liz C:

    13 today, including my first Redwing of the year. Blackbird, Blue Tit, Carrion Crow, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Jackdaw, Magpie, Nuthatch, Robin, Rook, Starling, Redwing, Wood Pigeon, there were also gulls but I could not identify those. Thanks again Michael.

    29 Nov 2020 11:23:00

  • Ralph Gilbert:

    Woodmancote. 29.11.20

    Wood pigeon
    Pied Wagtail

    Blue Tit

    29 Nov 2020 11:29:00

  • Chris Brown:

    19 species from my Brighton garden this morning. A small party of Long-tailed Tits had disappeared before 10, and a Coal Tit put in an appearance at 11:05!
    1. Great Tit
    2. Robin
    3. Blue Tit
    4. Dunnock
    5. Blackbird
    6. Collared Dove
    7. Great Spotted Woodpecker
    8. Woodpigeon
    9. Carrion Crow
    10. Chaffinch
    11. Herring Gull
    12. Starling
    13. Magpie
    14. Feral Pigeon
    15. House Sparrow
    16. Jackdaw
    17. Sparrowhawk
    18. Jay
    19. Goldcrest

    29 Nov 2020 11:29:00

  • Nigel Kemp:

    16 species at Heathfield. I was worryingly stuck on 10 species after 50 minutes but a rush of regulars in the last 10 minutes saved the day.
    Wood Pigeon, Herring Gull, Dunnock, Jackdaw, Starling, Goldcrest, Carrion Crow, House Sparrow, Coal Tit, Collared Dove, Blue Tit, Robin, Magpie, Blackbird, Goldfinch, Wren.

    29 Nov 2020 11:33:00

  • Owen Hydes:

    A cold, dank morning in Mannings Heath. A total of 18 species with the best being an unexpected sighting of a reed bunting. Plenty of redwings around.
    mallard (pair on our pond)
    wood pigeon
    carrion crow
    song thrush (heard)
    blue tit
    reed bunting (female)
    robin ( heard)
    great spotted woodpecker (heard)
    nuthutch (heard)
    long tailed tit
    great tit
    marsh tit
    coal tit

    Thanks for organising Michael – but where were those waxwings you promised us?!

    29 Nov 2020 11:35:00

  • Simon Linington:

    Hi Michael, Thanks yet again for organising this (and also for the great talk that you gave recently at the SWT virtual AGM). Scores on the doors in intermittent gloom (weather and birding) amounted to 23 species of which three were only heard:

    Blue Tit
    Collared Dove
    Common Gull (one)
    Song Thrush (song heard only)
    Great Tit
    Herring Gull
    Redwing (including a flock of 12 flying over)
    Rook (including two carrying oak leaves and twigs presumably for some early nest DIY repairs)
    Pheasant (heard only)
    House Sparrow
    Magpie (two)
    Crow (heard only)
    Chaffinch (one)
    Red Kite (one flew SE at 1025)
    Greenfinch (six)
    Black-headed Gull (one)

    Regards, Simon

    29 Nov 2020 11:42:00

  • Colin & Janet Holter:

    Slightly murky and misty over Steyning and downs from our garden this morning. Nonetheless a good mix of expected species which started with an unexpected flyover Red Kite just as Steyning village clock struck 10’o‘clock!
    1. Red Kite
    2. Robin
    3. Carrion Crow
    4. Kestrel
    5. Blue Tit
    6. Wood Pigeon
    7. Herring Gull
    8. Jackdaw
    9. Wren
    10. Starling
    11. Magpie
    12. Jay (H)
    13. Long-tailed Tit
    14. Chaffinch
    15. Great Tit
    16. Blackbird
    17. Green Woodpecker (H)
    18. Great Spotted Woodpecker
    19. Dunnock
    20. House Sparrow
    21. Buzzard
    22. Goldfinch (H)
    23. Black-headed Gull
    24. Greenfinch
    25. Redwing (1 on treetop)
    26. Sparrowhawk.

    29 Nov 2020 11:49:00

  • Sally Watson:

    Seen & heard 14: Nuthatch, Robin, Great tit, Blue tit, Coal tit, Marsh tit, Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Jackdaw, Wood pigeon, Pheasant, Wren, Buzzard
    Nuthatch hiding sunflower seeds, closely followed by coal tit who would uncover & eat them.

    29 Nov 2020 12:02:00

  • Evelyn:

    Eerily silent for the most part with very little to be seen.
    Total: 9
    Carrion Crow
    Herring Gull
    Blue Tit
    Great Tit

    29 Nov 2020 12:04:00

  • Bob Eade:

    A bit of multi tasking going on, so that’s my excuse!!
    14 birds seen and the first Wren in the garden for some time an hour later than it should have been there!!

    29 Nov 2020 12:46:41

  • Robin Harris:

    Perhaps the damp and grey weather was the reason for the less-than-enthusiastic performance by the cast here in Mountfield (TQ7420) this morning. Or maybe the Covid restrictions. Social distancing was observed by everyone – except the tight-knit gang of c20 Starlings. The only soloist was a Robin, and the raucous chorus of 12+ Black-headed gulls swirling overhead did try to lift the mood. Others taking the stage, in order of appearance, were House Sparrow, Dunnock, Pied Wagtail, Goldfinch, Carrion Crow, Blue Tit (hd), Blackbird, Jackdaw, Wren (hd), Magpie, Common Pheasant (hd), Wood Pigeon and Herring Gull. A total of 16 species.
    Regulars missing included Collared Dove, Great Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Buzzard. No apparent visitors from the East.

    29 Nov 2020 12:52:14

  • Rather chilly in the biting NE wind. A Raven flew over 2 minutes before the start, never to return. Good to hear both Mistle and Song Thrushes singing.
    Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jay, Magpie, Jackdaw, Black-heded Gull, Herring Gull, Woodpigeon, Redwing, House Sperrow, Robin, Coal Tit, Mistle Thrush, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Blackbird, Goldfinch, Greenwoodpecker, Starling, Rook, Heron, Great black-backed Gull, Great spotted Woodpecker, Shelduck, Curlew, Common Gull, Redshank, Stock dove, Buzzard, Song Thrush, Mute Swan 32

    29 Nov 2020 13:02:26