Sunday, 4 January 2009

Bird Challenge 2008 - The Results

Well this was great fun, and I hope those of you who took part, whether you submitted a score or not enjoyed it. I enjoyed trying to co-ordinate this, quite strange when one doesn't know the people except on-line. In total 12 people took part, plus yours truly, which is great. Maybe I could organise another one next year, or even on one of the May Bank Holidays, slightly warmer and there would be some migrants about.

But I hope though the true nature and spirit of this challenge came out, some motivation and fun over the Christmas period, a good excuse to get out and away from that 400th chocolate and endless repeats of the Good Life.

And so, in true Oscars style, in reverse order (and for some reason, ladies first, come on girls where are you with the 50+ scores....)

Oldcrow – Newfoundland, Canada – Bird Count 9

Oldcrow begins this report with the prize for the lowest number of species recorded, but being “over the pond”, what a selection of exotics. Evening Grosbeaks, Juncos, Chick a Dees, Blue Jays (I can never get enough of these Jays), Downy Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers and American Gold Finches. And a Grouse. “The grouse was seen out in the middle of the road. I had to go and get him off to the side as they are quite heedless when it comes to cars or even people.”

Thanks for taking part Oldcrow, quality not quantity eh?

View Oldcrow's blog here

Robin - Indiana USA – Bird Count 15

Robin came to this challenge via Shirl's blog, so may get a bit of a surprise reading this. I have posted her comment on Shirl's blog for the summary. Welcome on board Robin, she has some stunning photos on her blog, not just birds.

Hi, Shirl! I keep seeing the same birds over and over. There are house finches, goldfinches, house sparrows, robins, blue jays, dark eyed juncos, doves, Cooper's hawk, great blue heron, Canadian geese, chickadee, starlings, downy woodpecker and American crow. That's 15 for me, actually more than I had thought it would be.

View Robin’s blog here

Snowgoosey – North Dorset – Bird Count 19

Goosey was working over Christmas so her 19 is a very credible score. Great you weren’t intimidated Goosey with the higher scores, and glad you took part, and you learnt to take the lens caps off those new bins - her words not mine :-). Have a look at her blog as she has some great stuff in there, including blowing up a gingerbread house...

View Goosey’s blog here

Tricia – Surrey – Bird Count 23 in a day

Tricia spotted a good score of 23 on New Year’s Day in her garden and at Kew Gardens, what happened to the rest of the challenge Tricia, were you on the G&T's?). Nice garden list included Blackcap, Ring Neck Parakeet and Great Spotted Woodpecker and a fox, the only non bird mentioned.
View Tricia’s blog here

Shirl – Perthshire, Scotland – Bird Count 25

Shirl runs a very popular blog from her garden, it’s well worth a look through the breeding season as she has nest-cams everywhere. A good score from her garden. As Shirls said "I am more than happy with my count as I really am in no way what you’d call a birder and I’ll be completely honest and say that pre-blog I probably could only have identified only half the birds in my count and probably missed seeing some completely. Now… that is a result!" Great to have you take part Shirl.

View Shirl’s blog here

Jane at Urban Extension - Bird Count 33

Jane is the co-ordinator of the Corfe Mullen Wildlife Group in Dorset and managed a very credible 33 from mainly around her garden in Corfe Mullen and around Wimborne. And I loved her 27th bird “Seagull - God knows what type (common ones!)” Cracking stuff Jane, very informative :-) Have a look at her blog, as it’s quite special and has been profiled in the BBC Countryfile Magazine. Jane has also found a huge Jackdaw roost, which pleases me, as they’re soon to be on video.

View Jane’s blog here

Chris – Sechelt, British Columbia, Canada – Bird Count 57

A welcome addition from Canada from a new visitor to my blog. As Chris says “a quick Google Earth visit will help give the lay of the land”. All the birds were from his area, and it seems he had snow, lots of snow. Some great birds, Stellars Jay, Double-crested Cormorant, Common Loon and Bald Eagle to name a few. Given most of my family live in Canada, a trip seems on the cards reading this.

Notable misses were Merlin, Red-breasted and Common Merganser, and Kingfisher, Highlights were a Mountain Chickadee (very rare visitor to the Coast) and huge numbers of Red-breasted Sapsuckers. Both birds were present here due to extreme winter conditions experienced throughout BC and Canada.

View Chris’s blog here

Warren Baker – Pittswood Blog - Bird Count 67

Starting to rise rapidly now. Warren managed 67 species around his area of Kent (not including the feral Pigeons so that’s 68 in my book if they were in the wild rather than a park). Some nice birds here, such as Marsh Tit and Bullfinch. As he said this was a better tally than in the whole of any other December! (7years). Good stuff Warren.

View Warren’s blog here

Pete – Sheffield Wildlife – Bird Count 77

Mainly in Sheffield and Cheshire. It was good of Pete to say "this has been a lot of fun and made me get up on my days off and get hunting for birds, resisting the temptation for lie-ins and the lure of Guitar Hero 4… It’s also driven me to get two lifers out of it, which can’t be sniffed at"

Personally guitar Hero 4 sounds more alluring given this week’s cold weather. His Highlights - Green-winged Teal, Water Rail (both lifers), Bittern (first decent views), Waxwing (first self-found!). Biggest dips - Redshank, little owl, yellowhammer, linnet, raven, both partridges, peregrine.

View Pete’s blog here

Alastair – Whitby Birding - Bird Score 80

A serious and very credible 80 from the Whitby area. He got some good birds in there, Red Throated Diver, Red Grouse (almost extinct down here), Woodcock, Mediterranean Gull and Crossbill. Close calls were Black-throated Diver (not seen well enough), Merlin (very brief views). Amazed he didn't see one - Song Thrush, Stonechat, Rock Pipit.

View Alastair’s blog here

Andrew @ Quicksilverbirds – Bird Score 90

I’m just glad I lost, would have been truly embarrassing otherwise, and really I started this for the NHU's challenge at work, which I've lost as well. My lowlights were loads of commoner birds missed this year, Dipper, Ring Plover, Peregrine, Merlin, all Owls, most Swans and Geese, Raven, Grey Wagtail, quite a few Waders (not even a Grey Plover!!) and , Kingfisher. Must get out more.

You’re reading my blog, have you nothing better to do?

Dean – Mostly Macro – Bird Score 93

Now we're getting serious, a fantastic score. As Dean said, not bad considering that 83 of them were seen without the aid of transport. So Dean wins for the most environmental birding score. Certainly better than my 3 tanks of petrol !! Loads of good birds there, Iceland Gull, Green Winged Teal and Waxwing.

View Dean’s blog here


Stewart at Boulmer Birder – Bird Count 98

Well done Stewart, you win this years Birding Challenge with a very credible 98. Considering there’s only about 130-140 birds possible in the winter, apart from real rarities, this is a top score. Well done and thank you for helping publicise this via your blog.

His easiest 'misses' were Ringed Plover, Shag, Common Scoter, Guillemot, Razorbill, Tawny Owl, Skylark, Siskin, Crossbill and Snow Bunting. Slav and Red necked Grebes and Brent Geese are also not difficult if a visit to the North of the county could be made

View Stewart's Blog here


  1. Well done Andrew for thinking of the idea and doing all the work. And yes - let's do it again please?

    And NO - I wasn't on the G&Ts (more's the pity) Lol. But did have my elderly mother staying so couldn't get out and about till the new year.

  2. Congratulations to Stewart. It was a great idea Andrew.

  3. Hi there Andrew :-)

    First off, congrats go to you for organising this! Yes, it is the taking part but Congrats do go Stewart for a great list and count :-D

    Thanks also for adding Robin’s list to this summary post and for adding her link. I’ll pop by her blog and tell her! She does have a great blog with great bird and insect shots but her butterflies are the ones I enjoy the most!

    Mm… I bet your thinking cap is on for the next one now :-D

  4. 98? 98? blimey! Well done Stewart. Yes, lets do it again (when it's warmer... I might get a few more, as I'm such a wimp in cold weather!) I was a great idea. Thanks for organising it Andrew. Jane

  5. Top 5... I can live with that!

    I'll be keen to do another one if you do it again... Easter Weekend?!

  6. Looks like an easter bank holiday is on then Andrew!

  7. Thanks, Andrew, for coming up with the idea. I found it very enjoyable.
    And well done, Stewart.

  8. Hi all, wow a win! And I had time to put on another stone and feed my fat face with lots of chocolate! I think next year your challengers will be 'ready' Andrew, watch out for some big totals.

    As for an Easter challenge, well that'll be 98 again for me, if I'm lucky, its still winter here till May...

    I really enjoyed keeping a total for the week, it was much more relaxed than when doing a 24 hour race.

    My total goes to prove that I don't go birding, I am birding!

    Thanks all for your comments and good (virtual)company during the count...

  9. Thank you all. Given the comments and so on, I think an Easter Challenge is on the cards, maybe 2 categories, a garden only list and an out and out highest score. That way those staying at home with the Easter Eggs have a chance. More to follow in April.

    Thank you all for taking part, without your support, this would all have been a dream....

    ..... 98 Stewart, you're on :-)

  10. Excellent idea again Andrew. Although it's fun whatever the groupings!

  11. Thanks alot for my last minute inclusion from Sechelt. I will def. take part in the Easter Challenge.
    FYI. "Sechelt" means Land Between Two Waters in the local First Nations language.

  12. Great informative post :-)

    I got starting in bird watching after seeing Bill Oddie many years ago. It is intimidating at first sat in a hide not being able to pick out anything when everyone else appears to know what they are looking at.

    I just enjoyed watching the birds whether I knew what they were or not, being able to identify birds comes with time and experience.

    I was lucky enough to stumble across a local reserve and got know the crowd there and I walking the reserve with the locals was the easiest way to pick things up.


  13. Hi Chris, thanks for the north american translation of where you live. soinds much more excitign than "island" or "headland"

    Hi Pete, completely agree, just go out there and enjoy wildlife watching, no matter what. It's often the new converts (I'm not including you here) who become zealous, not just in birding bu all walks of life.