Win a copy of A Sparrowhawk’s Lament

k10223Here’s an opportunity for you to win a copy of David Cobham’s book on raptors (reviewed here). It’s a good book and this is a test of your luck and a little bit of your ornithological nous.

In the Indian summer of the last few days I have made five morning visits to my local patch at Stanwick Lakes. All have been over the same route at the same time of day and in the same weather conditions.  I’ve seen or heard 73 species of birds altogether, though the most on any one visit was 57 species.

Of the 73 species I recorded, 33 of them on all five visits, 9 on four visits, 8 each thrice and twice and 15 species were seen only once.


Here’s the list of species seen:

Mute Swan
Greylag Goose
Canada Goose
Tufted Duck
Little Egret
Grey Heron
Great Crested Grebe
Red Kite
Little Ringed Plover
Common Sandpiper
Green Sandpiper
Common Tern
Black-headed Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Stock Dove
Green Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Carrion Crow
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Sand Martin
Cetti’s Warbler
Long-tailed Tit
Willow Warbler
Lesser Whitethroat
Sedge Warbler
Reed Warbler
Song Thrush
Spotted Flycatcher
Grey Wagtail
Pied Wagtail
Meadow Pipit
Reed Bunting

So, your task, should you choose to accept it, is to select 5 species that you think I saw on each visit and 5 species that you think I saw on just one visit and post your selections as a comment on this blog (not Twitter, not an email to me, but as a comment here). The book will go to the person with the most correct answers. In the event of a tie then the person with the most of the ‘once seen’ species will be judged to have won. And in the event that there is still a tie, then the answer posted here first will be the winner. One attempt per email address (so if you have several email addresses you can enter several times).  Entries close at midday on Thursday 18 September. Answers will be posted on Friday 19 September. My decision is final.



100 Replies to “Win a copy of A Sparrowhawk’s Lament”

  1. Seen each visit – magpie, starling, blackbird, carrion crow, blue tit.
    Seen once – peregrine, cetti’s warbler, spotted flycatcher, whinchat, green sandpiper

      1. Enjoyed the challenge, only been to SL twice, not good on birds especially wetland / water birds. Do know George who manages SL but didn’t ask him for advice.

  2. Each visit Mallard Coot Blackbird Robin and Chaffinch

    mmmm more difficult
    Green Sandpiper Kingfisher Kestrel Cettis Warbler and Meadow Pipit

    Totally wrong I am sure but I tried 🙂

  3. The ones I think you did see each time are Starling, Chiffchaffs, Blue Tit, Jackdaw, Mallard.
    The ones only seen once I think are Little Ringed Plover, Cetti’s Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Lesser White Throat and Whinchat.
    And the best bird…….was it the Linnet?

  4. Seen every visit: Moorhen, magpie, wood pigeon, Canada goose, carrion crow.
    Seen once: Red kite, green sandpiper, peregrine, reed warbler, kingfisher.

    Thanks Mark. That got the grey matter working. Probably completely wrong but was fun nonetheless.

  5. I’m not familiar with the area but…….
    every day my guesses are: wood pigeon, chaffinch,mallard, dunnock, blackheaded gull

    Seen only once : snipe, peregrine falcon,little ringed plover, cetti’s warbler,grey wagtail,whinchat
    Cheers 🙂

  6. Every Day you saw
    Mute Swan
    Greylag Goose
    Canada Goose
    Black headed Gull
    You only saw these once
    Lesser Whitethroat
    Great Black-backed Gull
    Cetti’s Warbler but heard it several times
    I had my first Common Whitethroat in the garden for the year yesterday. rare bird up here!

  7. Great fun, thanks Mark.

    Every visit: Mute Swan, Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, Woodpigeon.

    Only Once: Sparrowhawk, Peregrine, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher.

  8. Here is my second go with my second email address. Got to cover all bases!

    Every visit: Blue Tit, Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, Woodpigeon.

    Only once: Sparrowhawk, Bullfinch, Kingfisher, Jay, Sedge Warbler.

  9. Every Visit

    Mute Swan
    Canada Goose
    Wood Pigeon

    Seen Once

    Lesser Whitethroat
    Cetti’s Warbler
    Red Kite
    Little Ringed Plover
    Spotted Flycatcher

    Sounds like a great weeks birding. Some nice late Warblers.

  10. common: mallard, coot, woodpigeon, blue tit, robin
    uncommon: stock dove, sand martin, treecreeper, meadow pipit and bullfinch

  11. Well worth a go, for a book on my Birthday pressie list – but I admit I do not know the area or where it is, at all.

    Every visit: Mallard, wood pigeon, jackdaw, blue tit, swallow.
    One visit: little ringed plover, green sandpiper, peregrine, bullfinch,lesser whitethroat.

    1. Mark W – i don’t think that lack of knowledge of the site is a great disadvantage. the list of species seen overall tells any bitder quite a lot about it> thanks for having a go.

  12. I’ll hazard a guess at
    every day:
    Mute swan, mallard, coot, grey heron, great tit
    Only once
    Spotted Flycatcher, Whinchat, Green Sandpiper, Snipe, Great Black Backed Gull.

    There are quite a few things that you could easily have seen only once or every time!

    1. Jonathan – thank you. Indeed, there are. And that is one of the things that makes birdwatching, and nature-watching genereally, so much fun.

  13. My logic may well be totally wrong but by the way recorded, seen and heard are used in the blog and question, I’m assuming that the 15 species seen once means just that – anything heard on another day would go down as having been recorded on two days, three days, etc.

    So I assume the seen every day would tend to be big and visible and I’ll go with Mute swan, Greylag goose, Canada goose, Mallard and Black-headed gull (same as John Miles).

    Seen once would need to be relatively uncommon, unobtrusive and quiet – Sparrowhawk, Treecreeper, Spotted flycatcher, Whinchat, Dunnock

    Of course, my reasoning could be utter bilge!

  14. oooh this is fun!

    Seen every time – Mute swan, mallard, grey heron, starling, robin
    Seen once – Green sandpiper, Cetti’s warbler, whinchat, spotted flycatcher, treecreeper

    Sounds like a great patch to go birding 🙂

    1. Anne – thank you. It’s a good patch – but then you see some good birds I notice, near you. Happy birding!

  15. Seen every day – woodpigeon, Canada goose, black-headed gull, lesser black-back gull, great crested grebe, cormorant.

    Seen once – spotted flycatcher, little ringed plover, lesser whitethroat, whinchat, reed warbler.

    I decided to take a few risks here because I compared with my local patch and you are much further south Mark. Hard choice for the 5 ‘seen once’ because sedge and reed warblers are both long gone up here so you could be getting passage birds or late breeding birds, green sandpiper can settle for some time (we have had daily records for more than two until today). Spotted flycatcher, lesser whitethroat and little ringed plover have also mostly moved through recently as have whinchats but they can be sporadic, short-stayers here anyway. You are near enough to red kite sites to be better than once but probably not a ‘gimme’ on a daily basis (ditto little egret). We are also at the front edge of the meadow pipit movement here but there have been odd birds prior to a bigger movement as a I write this.

  16. This is fun. Definitely gets your mind working. My husbands just told me all about it,now I’m going to give it a go.Will I beat him?!

    Daily seen,woodpigeon,mallard,mute swan,gadwall,teal
    Once seen,bullfinch,lesser whitethroat,peregrine,wren,spotted flycatcher

  17. Seen every time:
    Carrion crow
    Great crested grebe
    Wood pigeon

    Seen only once:
    Little egret
    Great spotted woodpecker
    Tree creeper

  18. Very good quiz Mark, this certainly got me thinking.

    For the five you’ve seen every time i’m going for four relatively common and easy to see: mallard, mute swan, moorhen and swallow. I’m thinking outside the box for number five; i’m going for whinchat, because it’s that time of year.

    For the five you’ve seen once i’m going for: spotted flycatcher, peregrine, red kite, snipe and cetti’s warbler.


  19. Seen every visit:
    Canada goose
    Mute swan
    Wood pigeon

    Seen only once:
    Reed bunting
    Cetti’s warbler

  20. How wonderful that you can walk in your local patch and see so many bird species!
    Here are my guesses.
    5 seen every time:
    Black headed gull
    Canada Goose

    5 seen once:
    Willow Warbler
    Lesser Whitethroat

    I’ve enjoyed the challenge!

  21. So much like my own patch on Otmoor Mark that your experience could be almost the same as mine:
    Seen 5 times: Canada goose; Mallard; Grey heron; Coot; Woodpigeon.
    Seen Once: Common sandpiper; Peregrine; Cetti’s warbler (but heard more than once I bet); Treecreeper; Grey wagtail.

    No Grey wag for Otmoor but up to 200 Yellow wags in the reedbed roost!

    Unlikely to win but already a proud possessor of the book. Great fun. Thanks.

  22. Every Visit: Mallard, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Coot, Woodpigeon

    Seen Once: Bullfinch, Spotted Flycatcher, Snipe, Peregrine, Stock Dove

    But only because I have never seen them there!

  23. Recorded every time: Mute Swan, Black-headed Gull, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Linnet
    Recorded once only: Little Ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper, Kingfisher, Lesser Whitethroat, Whinchat

  24. Seen every time:- mute swan, mallard, cormorant, coot, black-headed gull.

    Seen only once:- pheasant, tree creeper, whinchat, song thrush, grey wagtail.

    Reasoning:- many common birds don’t always present themselves for viewing! Part of the serendipity of bird watching.

  25. Great quiz Mark. I’m going for the wooden spoon here as in any quiz relying on ornithological nous and being quick to post a reply I am bound to fall short!

    5 species on each visit:
    * Blue Tit
    * Little Egret
    * Red Kite
    * Black-headed Gull
    * Carrion Crow

    5 species on just one visit:
    * Kestrel
    * Cetti’s Warbler
    * Starling
    * Sand Martin
    * Great Black-backed Gull

    Good to know you took the time to record so many species – all those beautiful linnets must have been very distracting!

  26. Five seen every day.Mute Swan,Canada Goose,Mallard,Moorhen,Coot.
    Five seen once.Grey Wagtail,Tree Creeper,Peregrine,Stock Dove,Snipe.

  27. A great little challenge for a fellow BirdTracker! Based on my own complete lists from the (vaguely comparable) Nunnery Lakes since the beginning of September, 5 ‘every visit’ species would be Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Robin and Wren. As for 5 ‘once onlys’, I’ll go with Peregrine, Spotted Flycatcher, Grey Wagtail, Lesser Whitethroat and Willow Warbler (it’s getting late for them inland).

  28. Hi Mark

    On each visit I think you saw mute swan, canada goose, mallard, coot and black-headed gull.

    On one visit I would guess at meadow pipit, spotted flycatcher, lesser whitethroat, pergrine and kingfisher.



  29. A very difficult competition Mark but here goes…….

    5 species recorded every day: Mute Swan, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe and Coot

    5 species recorded on just one day: Spotted Flycatcher, Bullfinch, Peregrine, Lesser Whitethroat and Whinchat

  30. Seen every time Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Carrion Crow, Coot, Wood Pigeon

    Seen only once. Lesser Whitethroat, Winchat, Peregrine, Common Sandpiper, LRP.

    Great idea Mark, really enjoyed thinking about it – lucky you to see a Winchat on passage

  31. Seen every time.. Mute Swan ,Mallard, Tufted Duck, Little Egret, Lapwing.

    Seen once… Cetti’s Warbler, Bullfinch, Red Kite, Lesser Whitethroat, Grey Wagtail.


  32. the scores from Yorkshire, 5 points: Mute Swan, Mallard, Black Headed Gull, Swallow, Coot.
    une point: Treecreeper, Sedge Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Green Woodpecker and Kingfisher.

  33. 5 species seen on all visits: Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Mallard, Coot
    5 species seen on just one visit: Peregrine, Sparrowhawk, Common Sandpiper, Whinchat, Kingfisher

  34. All: Canada goose, Mallard, Teal, Kingfisher, Starling
    1:wigeon, pochard, cormorant, common tern, bullfinch

  35. Each visit moorhen Canada goose mallard wood pig carrion crow
    Only once
    L R P, red kite, bullfinch buzzard peregrine
    Never been there but here is a try

  36. Seen once: whinchat, snipe, bullfinch, dunnock, sparrowhawk

    Each time: mute swan, woodpigeon, blackbird, chaffinch, blue tit

  37. Seen everyday Canada goose, mallard, woodpigeon, goldfinch, moorhen
    Seen once sparrowhawk, red kite, peregrine, spotted flycatcher, whinchat
    Nice task!

  38. An interesting task, Sir!!!

    Seen each time: Mute Swan ,Mallard, Tufted Duck, Coot, Woodpigeon.

    Seen once only: Little Ringed Plover, Peregrine, Sedge Warbler, Whinchat, Spotted Flycatcher.

  39. Seen every time:- mute swan,Canada goose, mallard, wood pigeon and blackbird.

    Seen once:- peregrine ( isn’t it strange how the falcons come after the woodpeckers now?), Cetti’s w, lesser Whitethroat, song thrush and Treecreeper.

  40. 5 species on each visit: 5 on species overall:
    Mute Swan. Cettis Warbler
    Mallard. Green Sandpiper
    Coot. Whinchat
    Moorhen. Stock Dove
    Wood Pigeon. Snipe

    Here you go Mark a lot of guessing and a little knowledge 🙂

  41. On all visits Mute swan, tufted duck, mallard, moorhen, coot
    On one visit Spot fly, lrp, snipe, lesser whitethroat and peregrine.
    If (?) I’m right I do expect to be disqualified Mark!

  42. Erm, this is tough!

    Every time; Mallard, Coot, carrion crow, black-headed gull and mute swan.
    Once; Green woodpecker, sedge warbler, linnet, lesser whitethroat and bullfinch.

    Probably totally wrong, but hey ho!

    Nice quiz 🙂

  43. An irrestistible challenge! Tricky….

    Seen every time:
    Black headed gull, Mallard, Woodpigeon, Blue tit, Robin

    Seen once:
    Peregrine, Sparrowhawk, Snipe, Whinchat, Green sandpiper


  44. Good challenge!
    Every day: Woodpigeon, Mute Swan, Mallard, Coot and Herring Gull
    Only once: Green Sandpiper, Red Kite, Peregrine, Whinchat, Spotted Flycatcher

  45. Each visit: mallard, carrion crow, Robin, moorhen, cormorant

    Only once: kingfisher, Treecreeper, winchat, peregrine Spotted Flycatcher

  46. Every visit: Mute Swan, Mallard, Lapwing, Black-headed Gull and Blue Tit

    Once: Red Kite, Green Woodpecker, Peregrine, Green Sandpiper and Lesser Whitethroat

  47. Seen each time – mallard, black-headed gull, goldfinch,Canada goose and mute swan.
    Seen once – little egret, jay, lesser whitethroat, grey wagtail and peregrine

  48. Enjoyed the challenge.

    I think every day you saw Canada Goose, Mallard, Great Tit, Robin, Chaffinch.

    I think you saw once, Little Ringed Plover, Snipe, Kingfisher, cettis Warbler and Linnet

    I look forward to the results

  49. Easy, just hand me the book now.
    5 seen every day are

  50. Seen every time:
    Wood Pigeon
    Carrion Crow
    Canada Goose

    Seen once:
    Common Sandpiper

    Of course I have been there once or twice with you, but that was in the depths of winter. No unfair advantage I hope?

  51. All 5 visits: Mute swan, mallard, coot, black headed gull, jackdaw,

    One visit only: Sparrowhawk, Peregrine, treecreeper, spotted flycatcher, bullfinch

    Made me think!


  52. Here we go….seen on each visit: Mute Swan, Mallard, Blue Tit, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Magpie and seen only once: Little Ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper, Cetti’s Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Peregrine.

  53. I am going to guess that one or two days were misty so your viewing may have been restricted.
    Seen every day: robin, wren, blackbird, coot, mallard
    Seen once: peregrine, spotted flycatcher, whinchat, green sandpiper, lesser whitethroat


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