Guest blog – Cambs Bird Club Easter Monday bird race by Louise Bacon

Today is Cambridgeshire Bird Club’s Easter Monday lockdown bird race.

Objective, 12 hours of recording from your home, with up to one hour allowed out, on foot.  Our house being not in the least competitive (2 birders – oh Ok, we are…) we have different lists and different strategies for this. I started with my morning cuppa in the garden, then off to feed the chickens at the bottom of the garden with the telescope. I live about 5 miles outside Cambridge, in arable village setting.  In 30 minutes I had logged 15 species; by 7.30 I have 26 species on the list, and there are still one or two regular local birds missing.  Its a biting north-easterly out there and at least 10 degrees colder than yesterday, a day when various county birders recorded garden hoopoes and black redstarts; no chance today…….

But this is more about some of the interesting things I observed in the first 90 minutes.  We have rooks nesting about 400m away, and at 6.20, they all piled into the field behind the house, fed busily for about 10 minutes then disperesed. This will be one of the nearest fields – presumably they do this every morning, a quick feed near to the nest to refuel before dispersing. This is exactly like us – breakfast then off out to work.  Also a pair of Canada geese flew round twice – there is a private fishing lake about  a kilometre away – I have no idea where they were off to, as there is so little water around – maybe to graze in the fields?  Buzzards are also very interesting – I definitely saw three birds.  There is a pair nesting south of us, and another pair off to the north east within the parish. A bird came low over my head – magnificent birding in itself, and presumably one from the nearest nest. A few minutes later, scoping almost to the next village, a pair of buzzards were feeding very actively on a field margin; worms for breakfast in that household, but probably a third pair for the area, but maybe not – I really have no idea how far they roam.

I can see the line of the brook from the bottom of the garden – was hoping for a glimpse of the mandarins, not yet, maybe later.  But I did see a starling emerging from its hole – I see very few locally, since they ceased to nest in this row of houses.

The whole time, two blackcap males competed for the best songster award, one from our garden, but no chiffchaff. The blackbirds with well grown young carry on feeding them, but the male also singing heartily – it’s a key time in the rearing, supposedly the male sings so that the half-grown young learn the song.  At least 2 other blackbirds singing, but the robins and dunnock very quiet.  Chaffinches seem very scarce this year – one singing from about 3 gardens away, but we do have goldfinches moved in.  Still plenty of common birds to log, and 10 hours left.. my ‘excursion’ will be the final hour…… partner took the option of going out first, so his list is almost 50 strong now, but he has burnt his bridges with the rest of the recording being confined to home!!

I may well write something else later, as I suspect the late morning/early afternoon hours will be tougher – no species being added, too cold to work on laptop in the garden……still, there are tomato and pepper plants to pot on which needs me to be outdoors discovering more of the lives of my local birds.


1 Reply to “Guest blog – Cambs Bird Club Easter Monday bird race by Louise Bacon”

  1. Best of luck Louise. I’ve always favoured the early morning burst to carry through the day but who knows, I’d not claim expertise in bird races.

Comments are closed.