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Naturetrek Lockdown Birdrace

Sara Frost
By Sara Frost
Website & Media Manager
8th April 2020
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To keep spirits up, and to add a little interest to our daily exercise, our office staff are doing a ‘lockdown birdrace’ each week, during which we attempt to see as many species as possible on our own local patch, either alone or with partners, housemates or family. We start bright and early every Tuesday morning, armed with binoculars and some competitive spirit!

Click here to view our cumulative list.

Staff lock down summaries

26th May 2020

Although the soaring temperatures are tempting from a birdwatcher’s point of view, this inevitably leads to fewer birds being found, especially during the peak of the breeding season. The summer migrants that have made the effort to fly to our shores are already occupying nests, or even feeding young. There are, however, a few individuals that arrive much later, and these normally relate to second-calendar year individuals i.e. those that were born last year and are returning to the UK for their first time, and are either wandering the country to find suitable breeding habitat, or have simply arrived late. They could, however, be summer migrants that are yet to find a mate, and sadly, are now unlikely to find one.

With the particularly drought-like conditions (and with no rain forecast for the foreseeable future), the amphibian life highlighted last week by Dan Lay will certainly struggle in the coming days as their pools start to dry out. This situation poses a problem for all wildlife, and here at Naturetrek, we are ensuring our gardens have accessible water for the birds and other wildlife to drink from, and we encourage you to do the same, if you haven’t done so already!

There were very few highlights this week, though a Hobby seen by Dan is certainly noteworthy. These stunning falcons are summer visitors to the UK and feed mainly on small birds and dragonflies. Their preferred habitats are the expansive heathlands which are home to many species of dragonfly, and birds can often be seen hawking over acidic pools in search of their prey.

Now the vast majority of migrants have arrived and have established their territories, today was our last lockdown birdrace of the spring. Thank you to all of you who got in touch to share your own lockdown sightings! We hope you have both enjoyed following our progress throughout this unusual time, and indeed enjoyed exploring more of your local patch than perhaps you normally would have done in usual circumstances. We know many of our staff members are planning to continue it in their spare time, and hope you do too! 



Dan Lay

Location: Hounsdown to local woodland on foot

Highlights: Hobby, Coal Tit (new to birdrace list)

Dips: Cuckoo, Firecrest, Goldcrest, Chiffchaff (all heard, not seen)

Birds: 29

Mammals: 1 (+1 dead only)

Butterflies: 0

Amphibians: 1 (+1 dead only)

Reptiles: 0

Comments: A surprisingly fresh start on the coast and certainly not the double figures forecasted, though it soon warmed up. Early on, a Buzzard came hurtling through woodland calling, certainly waking the senses. A beautiful morning where the pine treetops were a hive of activity; with more time many more species would have been seen. It was pleasing to hear a Cuckoo was still around after inevitably more footfall in the forest over the weekend. Most sadly, and quite surprisingly given we had a morning of rain on Friday, the pool where the Common Frog tadpoles were has completely dried up before any of them had the chance to metamorphose. Additionally, the only pool I have found newts in so far has also all but dried up and they were nowhere to be seen this morning. The plight of the few remaining Common Toad tadpoles also looks incredibly bleak. A very worrying time indeed for our already threatened British amphibians, with no further rain forecast for seemingly weeks.

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Pool with Palmate Newts nearly dry (Dan Lay)


David Phillips

Location: Horndean/Lovedean: housing estate, horse paddocks and country lanes.

Birds: 37

Highlights: Barn Swallows and a House Martin.

Mammals: 2, Grey Squirrel, Rabbit

Butterflies: 1, Speckled Wood 

Comments: Sticking with walking from home but, with more time ranging a little further afield, I walked through a series of horse paddocks north of Lovedean and this enabled me to see a few species that had been missing from the shorter walks on Hazleton Common.

It was great to see lots of Swallows and House Martins flying over the fields and nesting in the farm buildings. 

At the end of my walk I checked back on my local patch where a Willow Warbler has been singing from the same birch tree for the past three weeks. He was still present and calling which sadly means that despite flying all the way from West Africa he is now unlikely to find a female to raise chicks. 

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David Phillips


Kerrie Porteous

Location: Back on the home patch – the pond in Milford and surrounding area.

Birds: 27 seen plus 1 heard (Chiffchaff)

Highlights: 3 new additions to my lock down list (Herring Gull, Greenfinch, Kestrel), but the highlight was breeding Goldeneye on the pond, with 10 newly hatched, very fluffy ducklings. I’d brought my husband and daughter along today, so Sophie and I spent a LONG time watching the tiny ducklings which were seriously cute. We also spotted a Roe Deer, and just as I paused to take a photo, a Fox ran through and photobombed the deer!

Dips: There’s been a Common Tern visiting the pond which I’ve seen a couple of times now, but never during a Tuesday morning bird race. One day…

Mammals: Grey Squirrel, Roe Deer, Red Fox

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Kerrie and Sophie Porteous


Sara Frost & Matt Eade

Location: Alton – woodland, farmland, streams and Kings Pond

Birds: 41 (including two heard)

Highlights: It has somehow taken many attempts to add a Great Spotted Woodpecker onto our lockdown list, though today was our day with an individual showing very well. Many Common Whitethroats and a pair of Little Grebes were the minor highlights from our extended walk this morning.

Dips: Despite the heat, no butterflies were recorded. Failing to see a Pied Wagtail in their normal sites!

Mammals: Grey Squirrels & Rabbits

Comments: Despite the fine weather, bird activity was poor this morning. Although we managed to record over 40 species of birds, it felt as if we were in the heart of the breeding season with little to show for our efforts.

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Sara Frost and Matt Eade


Andy Tucker

Location: This morning I headed to The Vyne, a well-known National Trust property just to the north of Basingstoke. It’s also one of the better known birding sites in the borough, playing host to a variety of waterfowl in the winter and waders on passage.

Birds: 32 including 2 heard (Chiffchaff and Goldcrest)

Highlights: A single Redshank (already noted by other local birders) was new for my lockdown list. A handful of Lapwing and a single Muntjac in the early morning sunshine.

Dips: Morgaston Wood was very quiet this morning apart from very vocal Wrens and Song Thrushes. No raptors or hirundines.

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Andy Tucker


Tom Mabbett

Location: Our “Field Reserve”. Two fields totalling 9 acres, lined and separated in the middle with mature oaks, hazel, maple and ash with largely hawthorn and blackthorn hedgerows.

What was seen: I spent an hour walking around the fields noting any wildlife I found. I have recently planted some plugs of Birdsfoot Trefoil, Kidney Vetch, Cuckoo Flower, Wild Red Clover and Common Rockrose to further encourage butterflies and bees. A pair of Grey Wagtails flying low overhead was unusual here and Swifts were screaming high in the sky. Two Green Woodpeckers fed on ant hills and a male Sparrowhawk cruised over. I scoped the Red Kite nest and the female was stood up and giving some excellent views. I think there may be young now in the nest but can’t be certain! The male was calling and flying low over the nest tree. I looked under the reptile tins with one female Slow Worm being found. I managed to check a couple more bird boxes and of our 34 tit boxes we have 15 Blue Tit and 1 Great Tit brood, with 3 boxes having a nest but no sign of egg laying. This is an increase in 3 Blue Tit broods from 2019 but a decrease by 2 in Great Tit occupation. We have at least one of each Great Tit and Blue Tit brood in natural holes too. There are two Blackcap territories and they were blasting away this morning and a Raven was also seen with the Stock Dove pair flying out of their nest tree. A Nuthatch is nesting on an oak just outside our field boundary. The pond is alive with frog tadpoles still and there are Palmate Newts too, but I couldn’t see any today. A Large Red Damselfly was on the pond-side vegetation. The camera trap is still revealing Badgers, Foxes, Roe and Muntjac Deer regularly. A great walk and always so much to look at.

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Blue Tits (Tom Mabbett)


19th May 2020

Following an easing of the lockdown rules, combined with an urge to venture further afield – our original lockdown circuits having been somewhat exhausted – this week saw some of the Naturetrek team explore areas within a twenty-minute drive of our homes. This inevitably led to a surge in new sightings and, for some, dramatic increases in their morning totals. The Naturetrek lockdown list now stands at an impressive 103, up from 90 as of last week. It wasn’t just the birds this week though, as Dan Lay’s expertise in herpetology and David Phillips’s botanical knowledge ensured our interest wasn’t solely focused on avian life.

Here are this week’s highlights:

  • Rarest bird: The Little Ringed Plovers that Andy saw on his new route this morning are certainly worthy of this week’s top spot. This early-returning summer migrant is a regular but uncommon breeder in the UK. Its delicate posture and conspicuous golden eye-ring always make for a delightful sighting.
  • Southern migrants: A whole host of summer migrants was seen this morning. As already mentioned above, the Little Ringed Plover was a fine addition, as were singing Tree Pipits at a local heathland. New Alresford produced all three hirundine species (Swallow, House & Sand Martin), and the many warblers are still very vocal. Two Cuckoos were also heard across the Hampshire countryside.
  • Comments: It’s approaching the time when we are able to assess whether the breeding numbers of many species have declined, increased, or remained stable compared to previous years. A number of bird racers this morning commented on how many roadside verges have been left untouched by councils; many birds will take full advantage of this to gather a plentiful supply of food with which to feed their young. As the season progresses, an increase in many aspects of natural history will keep the Naturetrek team fully occupied during our Tuesday morning walks.


David Phillips

I took a break from the avian theme this morning to concentrate on the wild flowers that I’ve had more time to observe during daily walks. Maybe it’s the lockdown, or perhaps the initiative supported by ‘Plantlife’, but our local authorities have reduced the ‘management’ of roadside verges and, in the past few weeks, these strips of land have become a mass of brightly coloured flowers.

One of the verges leading up to a roundabout over the A3 was particularly rich in flowers so I decided to see what I could find and not worry about how I might appear to drivers passing by.

Cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis), that indicator of spring and specialist of damp margins, was still hanging on but rapidly being overtaken in height and number by a sea of Oxeye Daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare) which is one of the first meadow flowers to colonise unsprayed grassland.

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David Phillips

Along with the Oxeye Daisies many Meadow Buttercups (Ranunculus acris) and a few flowers of Common Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) stood high above an understorey containing four species of the family of leguminous flowers (the Fabaceae): Red Clover (Trifolium pratense), Common Vetch (Vicia sativa), Birdsfoot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) and the diminutive Black Medic (Medicago lupulina) which were also flowering in good numbers.  

On the adjacent heathland, my local patch, the blue flowers of Bugle (Ajuga reptans) are starting to fade and being replaced at ground level by the delicate yellow flowered Tormentil (Potentilla erecta). The first stands of Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) have now come into flower and spikes of Rosebay Willowherb (Chamerion angustifolium) are growing strongly across the common and should flower in a few weeks.


Sara Frost & Matt Eade

Location: New Alresford including Old Alresford Pond & Millennium Trail. This comprises a mixture of open water, chalk streams, farmland, and the old town of New Alresford.

Birds: 47 including two heard only (Long-tailed Tit & Reed Warbler)

Highlights: Cetti’s Warbler, Shelduck, but best non-avian wise, two Perch!

Dips: A male Marsh Harrier that was observed at Old Alresford Pond minutes before we arrived on site.

Mammals: Rabbit & Grey Squirrel

Fish: Grayling, Brown Trout & Perch

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Sara Frost and Matt Eade

Comments: Around New Alresford, it was fantastic to watch and hear Common Swifts as they patrolled the skies above the old town. House Martins also appeared to be holding up in good numbers, though Swallows were tricky to find, while the sight of Sand Martins led us to wonder about the location of the nearest colony. Although we missed the male Marsh Harrier that disappeared into the reedbed, it’s an encouraging sign that there may well be a nest here. The chalk streams situated here were alive with freshwater fish, and among the Grayling and Brown Trout were two reasonably sized Perch… We are now waiting to see a Pike here!


Kerrie Porteous

Location: Thursley National Nature Reserve  – an area of extensive heathland, peat bog, pine and deciduous woodland. I’ve been trying to get here on foot over the last few weeks; I even considered upping my running ability with extensive training so that I could leg it over there first thing in the morning, have a very quick look around, then leg it back. Sadly, reality (in terms of my ability and my commitment to running) has prevented this from happening. So, this morning I instead drove a couple of miles to the car park and walked the ‘dragonfly loop’ which took me past the large pond, along boardwalks over the wetter part of the reserve (not ideal for social distancing – you run the risk of having to chuck yourself into the bog if you spot someone coming the other way) and then through woodland back to the start.

Birds: 25 seen plus 3 heard (Cuckoo, Reed Bunting, Whitethroat)

Highlights: A Goldcrest (new for my bird race list) going to and from its nest, my first Great Spotted Woodpecker since week one, and it was really lovely to hear my first Cuckoo – though it was across the bog and there was no chance of getting near enough to see it! Skylark was new for me this week too.

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Kerrie Porteous

Dips: It was a bit early (both in the day, and the season) for some of my favourite wildlife at Thursley. It was a bit chilly for the Common Lizards that usually bask on the boardwalks, and the Early Marsh Orchids and Round-leaved Sundew aren’t out yet. There’s usually a decent chance of Hobby too, but I didn’t see any raptors at all this morning. Usually if I go birding at Thursley I make sure I bring along someone who is better at birding than me… I had the feeling this morning that there was a lot I was missing out on!

Mammals: Grey Squirrel


Andy Tucker

Location: Living high up on the chalk on the south-western edge of Basingstoke, I’ve got no water within a few miles of where I live so, spreading our birdrace wings today and thirsty for waterbirds, I headed the short distance up the M3 to Edenbrook Country Park in Fleet.

Birds: 45 for me this morning, including 2 heards (Cuckoo and Pheasant)

Highlights: A pair of Little Ringed Plover, incredibly confiding Reed and Sedge Warblers in full voice, Reed Buntings and Stonechat in summer plumage.

Dips: A few birds that were here at the weekend but not this morning – Little Egret, Pochard and Egyptian Goose. Plus, disappointing not to see the Cuckoo.

Comments: As nice as it was to visit some wetter habitat this morning, I’ve really enjoyed exploring my own local patch in detail on foot during lockdown. I’m not surrounded by great bird diversity on the outskirts of Basingstoke but finding a flock of Golden Plover in March, and one Garden Warbler territory a few months later, were highlights. Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council has taken a more sympathetic view of mowing this spring, and the wayside verges are covered in Cowslip and Oxeye Daisies. A Sparrowhawk has been regular over the garden, along with the usual Buzzards and Red Kites. What I’d dearly love to see locally though would be a recolonization of downland habitats by birds largely lost from north Hampshire in recent decades – the Tree Sparrows, Corn Buntings, Woodlarks, Grey Partridges and Turtle Doves.


Dave Shute

Location: Cheriton – Horse paddocks, arable and stream near old watermill.

Birds: 34

Highlights: First House Martin, Marsh Tit and Reed Warbler

Dips: Greenfinch, Mistle Thrush, Buzzard & Dunnock(!)

Mammals: Rabbit, Hare & Roe Deer


Tom, Stella and Max Mabbett

Location: Our family land or as we call it our “Field Reserve”. Two fields totalling 9 acres, lined and separated in the middle with mature oaks, hazel, maple and ash with largely hawthorn and blackthorn hedgerows. Some of the land is grazed by 10 sheep and an area is fenced off and managed for wildlife with a pond, many trees planted, wildflower strips and hedgerows planted. It’s an ongoing project over the last 15 years with a great deal of effort also put in by my brother Greg who is a tree surgeon and leads tours for Naturetrek. 43 Tit/Open boxes are dotted around with Tawny and Little Owl boxes, Treecreeper and Stock Dove boxes. A number of tins are also put down for reptiles and rodents and everything is recorded.  A camera trap records Badgers, Roe and Muntjac Deer and recently a Polecat!

Birds. We recorded 31 species.

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Song Thrush and Tawny Owl (Tom Mabbett)

Highlights: Super views of a Tawny Owl mobbed by a Song Thrush. A pair nest here and are often in this area. Following the alarm calls can often lead to the owl! The Red Kite was sat on the nest with the male overhead. Swifts flew high over and a smart male Sparrowhawk was seen.

Missed: Nothing under any of the reptile tins. Too cool still.

Plan: We surveyed the field noting everything we came across from 7.15 to 8.20am and I also checked on a few more bird boxes. I confirmed some more nests with four more Blue Tit broods and 1 Great Tit brood which was very welcome. There is now a confirmed 13 Blue Tit broods and 1 Great Tit brood in our boxes with quite a few more boxes yet to confirm. I looked in two boxes today, a quick look and photo for the records and lid back on. The one Great Tit nest checked today was a little behind the Blue Tits. There were 3 very young chicks and 3 eggs still. I wonder if they will hatch. The Blue Tits  had 6 healthy young that were very close to fledging.  Also seen were young Long-tailed Tits, Chiffchaff carrying food, fledged Robins and the Red Kite sat on its nest that is viewed from our field, high in a nearby Pine around 150m away.


Dan Lay

Location: Hounsdown to local woodland on foot

Highlights: Three species of amphibian, Common Cuckoo, Roe and Muntjac Deer, finally a Common Buzzard on Tuesday!

Dips: Firecrest, Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, Green Woodpecker, Blackcap (heard not seen)

Birds: 24

Mammals: 3 (+1 dead only)

Amphibians: 3

Reptiles: (+1 dead only)

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Drying pond (Dan Lay)

Comments: The new rules will mean a significant change in tactics for me. I have lived at my current home for just one year and I am excited to now use the Tuesday bird race to survey a piece of woodland within easy walking distance of my home in search of the reptiles, amphibians and non-lepidopteran invertebrates that may reside here, with the aim of submitting my records to relevant recording schemes. Reptiles are very sensitive to over-disturbance so this once weekly sensitive survey presents a great opportunity to monitor what is living and breeding here - hopefully some early Tuesday mornings will be warm enough for the reptiles to bask. With my eyes to the floor and slow walking, it will undoubtedly mean that my bird sightings plummet.

As a passionate herpetologist I was pleased to find three species of amphibians on my first Tuesday survey of my local woodland. The dry weather has, however, meant that for the Common Frog tadpoles, it is now a race against time to metamorphose and leave the pool they are living in before it dries up completely. The sheer reduction in pool size has meant that they are also extremely exposed to predation and the steep reduction in food sources is resulting in heavy cannibalism within the pool. The high protein and calcium loads from the cannibalism may, however, just give a chance for the strongest to leave the pool soon, with front and hind legs seen on most individuals. I also hypothesize that cannibalism could increase hormone levels, which induce metamorphosis, within the tadpole’s body. I will give an update on the pool when I head back next Tuesday.

Sadly, I also found a dead male European Adder with what appeared to be a heavy puncture wound, from a bite, on the right flank. As I was leaving the woodland, I saw a Jack Russell cross dog not on a lead and 100m from its owner, who was jogging ahead, which reinforced my impression that the wound may have been inflicted by a dog, especially as the dead adder was beside the path. Historically I have sent dead reptile specimens (including adders) to ZSL’s excellent Garden Health Watch programme for post mortem. If you find a dead reptile or amphibian it may be useful for their study and they may be interested in receiving it. There are protocols (especially with adders, which remain venomous after death) so they need to be contacted in the first instance. Incredibly sadly, Adders in Britain are in heavy decline and recent studies show that the species may well be on the verge of extinction here in 15-20 years. More information on the study can be found here.

Bullfinches are notably enjoying the lack of strimming and mowing with many individuals seen this morning feeding on the seed-heads of uncut verges.

Starlings and House Sparrows are also having a very good season here on the South Coast with Pied and Grey Wagtail both with fledglings too.

The earlier start for birdrace meant brilliant views of Roe Deer and a Muntjac sleeking through the woodland.

Common Cow-wheat is abundant in one area of the woodland and I hope to survey it later in the year for the stunning Cow-wheat Shieldbug.


Simon Dicks

Location: Marwell Woods, footpaths through some light woodland.

Birds:16 + 2 heard

Highlights: Nice to see Song Thrush and Wren singing their hearts out. A moth landed on a blade of grass near me – Alabonia geoffrella, a micro (thanks to Dave Shute for the ID).

Dips: Didn’t see a Great Tit!!

Mammals: Squirrel, Rabbit and Roe Deer.

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Alabonia geoffrella (Simon Dicks)


Paul Stanbury

Location: Longmoor Ranges near Liss, Hampshire (heathland with patches of deciduous and conifer woodland)

Birds: 36 species

Highlights: Dartford Warbler singing from a small pine, with Woodlark singing overhead at the same time.Tree Pipit and Cuckoo also.

Dips: Still no Hobbies!

Mammals: 3 – Roe Deer, Rabbit and Grey Squirrel (plus a herd of very formidable-looking Longhorn Cattle)

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Dartford Warbler (Paul Stanbury)

Comments: Having spent most of the lockdown wandering the footpaths behind my house in the rural village of Greatham, Hampshire, it was nice this morning to venture a little further afield, even if it was only by an extra mile or so! The Longmoor Ranges lie on the opposite side of the A3 to Greatham and unlike the adjacent – and better known – Woolmer Ranges, which are often closed by the military, Longmoor is rarely out of bounds. It offers an interesting patchwork of lowland heath, conifer and deciduous woodlands and gorse scrub, dotted with wet flushes and small ponds. It is a lovely place to wander in the early morning hours and offers a very different suite of birds to the farmland species behind my house. For me, the highlight of a visit here in the spring is the song of the Woodlark. This nondescript brown bird may be common in the open areas, but it has one of the most beautiful and haunting songs of any UK species. I never get bored of listening to them circling overhead uttering their plaintive ‘lu-lu-lu-lu’ song, the inspiration for their scientific name of Lulula arborea. Another species on the increase at Longmoor is the delightful Dartford Warbler. This small and unusually colourful Sylvia warbler has benefited greatly from the recent run of mild winters. Their rapid scratchy song is a familiar sound on the patches of open gorse-dotted heaths, especially in April and May when they feverishly launch themselves into the sky on their display flights. Parachuting Tree Pipits also seem to have bucked the trend and increased over the past couple of years, several pairs of Stonechat breed, and most of my walk this morning was serenaded by a singing Cuckoo. I really must return one evening to see if the Nightjars are back (they certainly should be by now), and perhaps I’ll also have better luck finding a Hobby, a bird that certainly should be around but one I am yet to find! Lockdown certainly has reminded me of the wildlife delights I have on my doorstep and when the pull of the coast beckons once more, I am now more likely to resist the temptation and continue my exploration closer to home instead. 


Alison Steel

Location: Frensham Little Pond & Common

Birds: 47 (including 7 heard only)

Mammals: Roe Deer, Rabbit, Grey Squirrel

Comments: The dawn chorus was in full swing as I got out of the car, with Wren, Chiffchaff, Robin and Blackbird being the most audible initially. Walking along the track towards the pond were Goldfinches, Chaffinches and calling from high in the pine trees, Goldcrest. It wasn’t until later in the walk that I actually saw some of the tiny birds. There were also lots of Grey Squirrel munching away on the pinecones. Approaching the pond, it was easy to pick up the strident call of Sedge Warblers tucked away in the reeds. There were quite a few them spread out around the shoreline, intermittently flying between patches of reeds. Black-headed Gulls were using the tern rafts to nest on while a few Common Tern were seen above the pond. 

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Alison Steel

Moving away from the water into the pine trees, I could hear Woodlark calling from the other side of a field. Pied Wagtail and Starlings were foraging in the horse paddocks. Lots of Goldcrest and Coal Tits could be heard in the tops of the trees, but only occasionally seen. As I moved from the woods to the edge of the heathland, I heard my first Willow Warbler of the year. Hiding in a dense stand of willow and pine, they remained elusive, but a couple of Great Spotted Woodpeckers flew backwards and forwards between the woods and some individual trees out on the heath. A Redstart was calling from another tree and I got a quick glimpse before it flew off. There were lots of birds calling from the woods, but the common was quiet, perhaps due to the cool weather. Back towards the pond I found some more Sedge Warblers, while out on the water were Mute Swans, Greylag and Canada Geese as well as Tufted Ducks. Long-tailed Tits flew through the scrub at the water’s edge. A scratchy call from the middle of a gorse bush alerted me to the presence of a chat. During the last part of my walk there were several male Stonechat defending territories in the open areas of heathland, using gorse bushes or dead trees as look out points. On the final section of the walk was Whitethroat calling from the top of a tree, a pair of Stock Dove flying between the trees and a lovely male Bullfinch that flew across in front of me. Many of the species this morning were located by first hearing their call. The denser foliage that’s now grown in made a few much harder to spot, but knowing what you are looking for and how they behave increases the likelihood of being able to locate them.


Eddie and Lizzie Streatfeild

Location: A different route this morning, partly because the towpath was blocked by the parent Mute Swans and their seven cygnets, so we spent a lot more time in fields.  

Birds: 21 + 2 heard

Highlights: A Common Buzzard was perched nicely on a tree which Eddie was very excited about  

Dips: We’ve had Starlings in a neighbouring field feeding their juveniles, but unfortunately could only hear and not see them during the race. We could also clearly hear a Cuckoo, but swans were blocking our path and so couldn’t get any closer to try to see it.  

Mammals: Grey Squirrel

Comments: A different partner this morning, my 4-year-old son, Eddie joined me in his first bird race; this did mean that we took it particularly slowly.

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Eddie Streatfeild


12th May 2020

Our lockdown total this week has increased by one (now standing at 90 species of bird), again added on by Dan who, as last week, got his running shoes on for his jog down to the coast. Surprisingly, there were no more additional summer migrants (Lesser Whitethroat and Garden Warbler should be readily available now), though the frosty conditions could have suppressed some species from making themselves known. These frosty conditions meant that once again this week, no butterflies were recorded.

Here are this week’s highlights:

  • Rarest bird: It’s getting to the stage now where the rarest bird will be the least seen bird on our list, and with this in mind, this week, Paul’s Egyptian Geese must take the reign. This non-native species on the British list has increased dramatically in the UK in the past decade.
  • Southern migrants: There’re some species that are located close to homes, such as the Cuckoo, Tree Pipit and Garden Warbler, but frustratingly not on our bird race day. Hopefully, these will be additions in the near-future, though for now, the common migrants are still very much on offer, with Common Swifts providing the most entertainment.
  • Comments: This was the first week of adding on the ‘heard only’ species to our total. However, as the breeding season progresses, the singing diminishes as local breeders are either on the nest, busy feeding young, or have moved elsewhere to try their luck with finding a mate.


Dan Lay

Location: Hounsdown to the mouth of the River Test & Bartley Water

Birds: 26 species

Highlights: Common Redshank feeding and my closest ever views of a Stock Dove, which landed just a few meters in front of me on a gravel bank; what a lovely bird it is with absolutely mesmerising, shimmering colours in the sunlight. Both new to my NT race list.

Dips: Reed Warbler, Chiffchaff and Bullfinch which were all heard and would be new to my Tuesday race list. 6th week and still no bird of prey on my Tuesday list!

Mammals: 1

Butterflies: 0

Comments: An absoluty beautiful morning and employing the same tactic to go in search of waders and wildfowl. Jogging inevitably meant many smaller species were missed.

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Bartley Water (Dan Lay)


Andy Tucker

Location: Beggarwood, Basingstoke. This morning I decided to get the trainers on and go a little further into Yellowhammer country around the tranquil little village of Dummer, which was put on the birding map back in 1980 when a Scops Owl took up residence for the summer.

Birds: A birdrace record for me this morning with 32 including 2 heards (Wren and Chaffinch).

Highlights: Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap all along the edge of Dummer golf course. A lovely Sparrowhawk overhead in Dummer and Yellowhammer and House Martin also new for my lockdown birdrace list which is now at 40. Oh….and overtaking another runner while in full-on birding mode!

Mammals: Rabbit and Roe Deer

Dips: Greenfinch and my big bogey bird on birdrace day Pied Wagtail.

Comments: Full ‘lockdown on foot’ list stands at 57 with Garden Warbler and Kestrel new this week.


Simon Dicks

Location: Bishops Waltham , A32 and along a footpath through some light woodland

Birds: 22

Highlights: 1 new species for the bird race for me - Pied Wagtail. Seeing Bullfinch always a highlight. Also, nice to get eyes on a Song Thrush this morning. They are normally only on my heard list.

Dips: No mammals whatsoever.

Comments: Beautiful, chilly morning. Quieter bird wise for me this morning. The A32 was far busier with traffic.

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Blossom (Simon Dicks)


William and Lizzie Streatfeild

Location: It was a beautiful morning, and there was a lot of activity and so we only made it as far as the end of the canal. Even so we added 5 new species to our total lockdown list – Great Spotted Woodpecker, Mute Swan, Canada Geese (including 7 cygnets), Mistle Thrush, and Willow Warbler.

Birds: 23 + 1 heard

Highlights: We saw our first woodpecker, which was exciting as we often see them in our area but haven't seen them much this year so far. Fingers crossed for more sightings.

Dips: Didn't see any Mallard, but the Canada Geese and family of Mute Swans more than made up for this.

Mammals: Grey Squirrel

Butterflies: 0

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Swans (Lizzie Streatfeild)


David Phillips

Location: Horndean: Housing estate backing onto a small heathland reserve (Hazleton Common).

Birds: 23.

Highlights: Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Common Whitethroat.

Mammals: Grey Squirrel.

Comments: Fewer species for me today, but many were in fine voice, in particular a Blackcap belting out its glorious song from the top of a small Ash tree. It was also lovely to see several parties of Long-tailed Tits moving through the woods.

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David Phillips


Dave Shute

Location: Cheriton – Horse paddocks, arable and stream near old watermill

Birds: 37

Highlights: First Swifts, a singing Reed Bunting & 2 male Mandarins

Dips: Green Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush & no birds-of-prey

Mammals: Rabbit, 3 Hares & a Grey Squirrel

Comments: A frosty start but no wind and beautiful sunny morning. A record count of 37 (plus 3 heard) for the hour’s walk.


Sara Frost & Matt Eade

Location: Alton - Rugby pitch, stream & Kings Pond

Birds: 37

Highlights: Stock Dove & Little Grebe

Dips: Bullfinch and Sparrowhawk only Matt saw. Dipped on Carrrion Crow!

Mammals: 0

Butterflies: 0

Comments: A few quiet spells during the walk halted our successes as we achieved one of our lowest scores to date. Still, a pleasant morning in lovely birding conditions.

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Sara Frost and Matt Eade


Alison Steel

Location: Alton, Hants - Across Flood Meadows, through the town centre, around the south side of Kings Pond and up Windmill Hill

Birds: 35

Highlights: Coal Tit feeding a fledgling, a pair of Rooks having a tussle over food just a short distance from me, a Wren singing away on a head stone in the cemetery and a lovely male Bullfinch showing well in the sunlight.

Dips: No woodpeckers

Comments: Today I went for filling in some gaps in my bird race list – species that I’d seen on walks during lock down, but not on bird race mornings, and I managed to add 4 new birds to my race list this morning – Bullfinch, Goldcrest, Coal Tit and Red-legged Partridge.

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Flooded meadows (Alison Steel)


Tom, Stella and Max Mabbett

Location: Edge of Cheltenham. Suburban area, parkland and woodland

Birds: 28 seen. Heard 4 (Goldcrest, Nuthatch, Chiffchaff, Coal Tit)

Highlights: A Buzzard at last, and a Wood Mouse in the garden.

Dips: The Moorhen that often hangs out on a hotel pond.

Comments: Conditions were cold but bright with a light overnight frost. We covered the same route with more time spent in the open park. Sadly, the Long-tailed Tit nest was on the floor and looks to have been predated. The Whitethroat on territory, Swifts went overhead, and a nice Grey Wagtail landed on a roof. The highlight was finally adding Buzzard to the lockdown list - long overdue. With the Buzzard our total tally now stands at 47.

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Wood Mouse (Tom Mabbett)


Kerrie Porteous

Location: Rodborough Common – my original and favourite loop

Birds: 16

Highlights: I struggled a bit this morning. There were plenty of birds about and lots were singing, but I kept getting lost in my own thoughts and forgetting to bird. Clearly, I was not following governmental advice to STAY ALERT!!! However, things did pick up just at the end when a Long-tailed Tit (new for my lock down list) nearly flew into my head. I then watched a pair at close quarters for a couple of minutes. I also had some wonderful Wren sightings – so often I can hear them bellowing away but can’t actually get on them – and enjoyed adding to my wildflower list too.

Dips: Too many to list here…

Mammals: Grey Squirrel, Rabbit

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Rodborough Common (Kerrie Porteous)


Paul Stanbury

Location: Farmland (including ploughed and rough fields), hazel coppice and hedgerows on edge of Greatham looking out towards Selborne.

Birds: 27

Highlights: Bullfinch & Egyptian Goose

Dips: Red Kite, Coal Tit, Mistle Thrush

Mammals: 2 - Roe Deer and Grey Squirrel.

Butterflies: 0


5th May 2020

Our lockdown total has increased by two this week thanks to Dan, who ran to the mouth of the River Test, allowing him to add Shelduck and Great Crested Grebe to our list. Although it was drier this week, the cooler breeze meant that very few butterflies were located. It was pleasing that most ‘birdracers’ are now regular spotting summer migrants.

Here are this week’s highlights:

  • Rarest bird: A Peregrine Falcon, which was spotted through the kitchen window by Sara and Matt, while they were finishing off their tea and coffee.
  • Southern migrants: Common Swifts were seen at several localities this morning. Sedge Warblers and Common Whitethroats are now arriving in good numbers, and although difficult to see due to the leaf foliage, Blackcaps are still vocal. Once again though, a handful of common summer migrants are yet to make it onto our list.
  • Comments: Thankfully it was a drier than last week, but there was still a chill in the air. A band of anticyclonic weather is approaching and should persist for the rest of the week, so we'll be keeping our fingers crossed for the likes of Lesser Whitethroats and Garden Warblers to make a sudden arrival. Incidentally, early breeders are reaping the rewards of our recent fine weather – young Canada Geese, Mallard, Moorhens and Robins were all seen this week. From this week onwards, we shall be adding the heard-only species onto our list, as thick foliage means that certain species are increasingly difficult to spot.


Sara Frost & Matt Eade

Location: Alton – Rugby pitch, stream & King's Pond

Birds: 38

Highlights: Little Grebe, House Martins & Tufted Ducks

Dips: Mistle Thrush, Goldcrest and Firecrest 

Mammals: Roe Deer & Rabbits

Butterflies: 0

Comments: A breezy morning ensured some overhead migration as House Martins ploughed northwards. Common Swifts are now regular above the town, and King's Pond brought two surprises for us – Tufted Duck and a Little Grebe.

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Sara Frost and Matt Eade


Andy Tucker

Location: Beggarwood, Basingstoke. A walk around Basingstoke golf course to Peak Copse

Birds: 27 (including 3 heard only)

Highlights: Three new birds for my Naturetrek lockdown birdrace list this morning: Chaffinch, Jay and Buzzard. My birdrace list is now up to 37 and overall ‘lockdown on foot’ list is 52.

Dips: Dunnock, Greenfinch, Long-tailed Tit. No hirundines at all, or gulls or waterbirds except a fly-over Grey Heron.

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Andy Tucker


David Phillips

Location: Horndean: Housing estate backing onto a small heathland reserve (Hazleton Common)

Birds: 28

Highlights: Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Great Spotted Woodpecker

Dips: Green Woodpecker

Mammals: 1 Grey Squirrel

Comments: It was a breezy morning and traffic seemed heavier on the roads.
My first Willow Warbler was singing from willow(!) and took a while before it showed itself.

Along the wooded lane at the back of the reserve I had a lovely view of a Nuthatch.

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David Phillips


Dave Shute

Location: Cheriton – Horse paddocks, arable and stream near old watermill.

Birds: 36

Highlights: 4 Bullfinches feeding on dandelion seeds in horse paddock, first Grey Wagtail (female carrying food), 4 Gadwall & 3 Sedge Warblers on territory

Dips: no woodpeckers, Great Tit (!) or Mistle Thrush

Mammals: Rabbit & Hare

Butterflies: 0


Alison Steel

Location: Alton, Hants – Flood Meadows, town centre, King's Pond and Windmill Hill

Birds: 27

Highlights: My first Swifts of the year. I had heard some last night, so knew they were back! Grey Wagtail flying across the pond, young Robins that were just fledged and not shy, some nice views of a Greenfinch flock.

Mammals: 0

Butterflies: 0

Comments: Lots of goslings, ducklings and chicks this morning around Kings Pond as well as some just fledged Robins. Today’s route was over to and up Windmill Hill via streets and footpaths. From here I went around Kings Pond then back through Flood Meadows. Three new species for the list today – Swift, Black-headed Gull and Grey Wagtail.

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Alison Steel


Dan Lay

Location: Hounsdown to the mouth of the River Test

Birds: 27 species

Highlights: Shelduck, Great Crested Grebe, Curlew (all new to my NT racelist)

Dips: Sedge Warbler, which I almost certainly saw, but as I was jogging I can’t say this with 100% certainty!

Mammals: 1

Butterflies: 0

Comments: A cool breeze on the South Coast here meant a change of tactic to go in search of waders and wildfowl, which paid off with new species seen. This did require a little jogging which inevitably meant any smaller elusive species were missed. I recorded my first hirundine for the birdrace, a Barn Swallow, with hirundines still appearing to be rare in my locality.

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Mouth of the River Test (Dan Lay)


Tom, Stella and Max Mabbett

Location: Edge of Cheltenham. Suburban area, parkland and woodland

Birds: 29 seen. Heard 7 (Goldcrest, Nuthatch, Grey Wagtail, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Bullfinch, Willow Warbler)

Highlights: SWIFTS! Also House Martins, three Red Kites. I also found a Long-tailed Tit nest with young.

Dips: Finches!

Tactic: Conditions were windy and cold but bright. With a moderate easterly wind there was a bit of passage so we had our eyes on the skies! We walked the same adapted route along some key streets, with houses supporting breeding House Sparrows and Starlings, to the woodland and fields. The Collared Dove pair were on the same roof as last week, the Common Whitethroat on territory, and we had good views of Chiffchaff and a Song Thrush collecting worms. Above us Swifts went overhead with two parties of House Martin zooming through and a couple of Swallows. Swift, House Martin and Red Kite were new for the bird race and my total tally now stands at 46!


Kerrie Porteous

Location: Lower Moushill Lane skirting past gardens and woodland, then over the A3 and out towards Bagmoor Common. I thought I’d try a new route again – I so rarely have the opportunity in ‘normal’ life to go on long walks from my house without a toddler in tow, so I'm doing as much exploring as possible while I can!

Birds: 23, which is my highest total without including a visit to the pond to bag the ducks and geese!

Highlights: A record five new additions to my bird race list – Pheasant, Buzzard, Red Kite, Swift (seen in the final seconds of my race, metres from my house) and Coal Tit. Delighted to see the Coal Tit, which is a favourite of mine. I would class myself as a ‘budding botanist’ (more so than a birder), and I think my birding skills might be maxed out already, so I’ve decided to also ID and learn 5 wildflowers during each Tuesday morning bird race. So no Cuckoo for me, but I did enjoy finding Cuckoo Flower (Cardamine pratensis) in a particularly boggy area on the edge of Bagmoor Common, plus Greater Stitchwort (Stellaria holostea), White Dead-nettle (Lamium album), Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) and plenty of Wood Forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica) along the edge of the woodland and in the roadside verges.

Dips: I'm still struggling to see a Blackcap. I just realised I don’t have Dunnock on my bird race list either!

Mammals: Grey Squirrel. I thought I saw a deer… but on closer inspection it was a deer statue in someone’s garden. Ahem.

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Kerrie Porteous


Annie Dale

Location: Residential, arable farmland and alongside stream

Birds: 23 – our lowest total yet. We heard lots, but the foliage being so much thicker now makes sightings harder to come by. We took a different route so we missed some of our usuals, such as Red-legged Partridge, but we saw Hares a plenty instead!

Highlights: Little Egret and Treecreeper

Dips: Yellowhammer and Red-legged Partridge

Mammals: 3 – Hare, Rabbit & Grey Squirrel

Butterflies: 0


Georgie Head (and partner Lewis)

Location: Farnham, suburban area, and woodland adjacent to the River Wey

Birds: 26

Dips: Jay, Chaffinch & Starling

Mammals: Grey Squirrel

Butterflies: Orange-tip

Highlights: Kingfisher was added to our overall lockdown list this morning. After weeks of eluding us during our frequent walks along the river, it was a pleasure to finally catch a glimpse of one. Swift, Grey Wagtail and Grey Heron were also welcome new additions to our birdrace list.


Charlie Bridger

Location: Back garden

Birds: 14 + 5 heard only

Mammals: Grey Squirrel

Highlights: My highlights today were seeing a Grey Wagtail and hearing a Cuckoo!


William and Lizzie Streatfeild

Location: We followed our usual route this morning, but went slowly and tried to add new species to our list and so spent a lot of time trying to identify birds we could hear, but weren't sure what they were! This did pay off with a couple of first birds for William and four new species for our lockdown total.

Birds: 18 + 2 heard

Highlights: We have a known Blackcap, which hadn’t yet made an appearance during our birdrace walks, but this morning William was the one who spotted it. We spent 10 minutes with a beautiful view of the bird in full song – very exciting! We had a few other firsts for our birdrace walks – Moorhen, Red Kite and Meadow Pipit.

Dips: Still haven't spotted any woodpeckers, Mistle Thrushes, or Kestrels. We also missed a lot of regulars – Magpie, House sparrow and Jackdaw (to name a few)

Mammals: None apart from our own black Labrador!

Butterflies: 0


28th April 2020

Our lockdown bird race tally is still on 86 - our efforts to find new birds this week were dampened by very wet weather this morning! The keener staff opted to brave the rain, whilst others (perhaps more sensibly!) opted to do a ‘dry birdrace’ from their window, with a cup of tea!

Here are this week’s highlights:

  • Rarest bird: The poor weather and fewer observers this week certainly reduced the likelihood of a scarce or rare bird to be found, and indeed none were. However a Little Grebe was seen by William and Lizzie, which is a nice highlight!
  • Most unusual for habitat: David Phillip’s Mediterranean Gulls once again returned as they drifted over his garden. Tom Mabbett’s Common Whitethroat was also a surprising encounter on his route, the first he has recorded in that particular area.
  • Southern migrants: A couple of Swallows in Alton, and the odd Blackcap singing in the rain were the only ‘southerners’ this week. There are still many summer migrants that are yet to make it onto the Naturetrek’s lockdown list.
  • Comments: It was no great surprise that no butterflies were seen this week. The rain not only put off the birds, but also some of our regular lockdown listers, and therefore this week’s list was considerably down from previous weeks. Fingers crossed for clear skies and sun next Tuesday!


Sara Frost & Matt Eade

Location: Suburban Alton, taking in Kings Pond and the industrial estate.

Birds: 28

Highlights: Mute Swan and Coot were new additions; however, a recently fledged Grey Wagtail was lovely to see.

Dips: Dunnock, Treecreeper and Blackcap plus a singing Firecrest and many Blackcaps

Mammals: 0

Comments: A truly miserable morning with heavy rain and fewer birds. A different route today yielded two new birds for our lockdown list, and we narrowly missed out on a Treecreeper due to heavy drops from thick foliage obscuring our view, despite singing a few metres above us!

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Sara Frost and Matt Eade


Tom Mabbett (wife Stella and baby Max had more sense this week, and stayed at home!)

Location: Edge of Cheltenham. Suburban area, parkland and woodland.

Birds: 24 (heard Great Spotted Woodpecker, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest)

Highlights: Common Whitethroat

Dips: Nothing, everything was a bonus today (still no Chaffinch seen though!)

Tactic: Conditions were awful with constant heavy rain throughout but it was good fun. I walked a couple of different roads and a small lane on the edge of the wood. Lots of birds on the T.V aerials today and I have found which house the Collared Dove hangs out on and a few houses where Starlings and House Sparrow nest. It seems Dunnocks sit up and sing more in the rain than on the very cold crisp mornings that the previous weeks have seen. The highlight was a cracking Whitethroat seen really well in a small bramble covered paddock. I have never seen one here before. Lots of singing still, and Song Thrush, Wren and Blackcap were enjoyed blasting away. Very little in flight (as expected) but a pair Mallards flying over was fitting. With Whitethroat the bird race total tally now stands at 43.

Mammals: Roe Deer, Grey Squirrel

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Tom Mabbett


Dan Lay

Location: Hounsdown, horse paddocks, mixed woodland.

Birds: 20 species

Highlights: Finding a new Badger sett

Dips: Most sensible birds! Green Woodpecker and Goldcrest heard only. No activity from Nuthatch nest hole this morning and no sign of my main targets for today – the ever Tuesday-eluding Buzzards and a pair of Grey Wagtails seen yesterday.

Mammals: 0

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Oxeye Daisies (Dan Lay)


Luca Boscain

Location: A village in the Veneto plain of Italy, with a small river in front of the garden.

Birds: 29 species.

Highlights: Cattle Egret, Sand Martin and Pied Flycatcher.

Dips: Little Egret, Kestrel, Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker, Long-tailed Tit, Jay.

Amphibians: Edible Frog (heard)

Comments: rather cloudy and misty morning, with a lot of humidity and not too much migration signs. Pretty slow after the weekend in which I had 46 species in a full birding day, including an amazing Black Stork... But at least now I can move around the territory of my municipality wearing mask and gloves!

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Luca Boscain


David Phillips

Location: Back garden(!), Horndean.

Birds: 11

Highlights: Mediterranean Gull

Dips: Blue Tit, House Sparrow

Comments: Due to the heavy rain I watched the birds in my back garden from the kitchen.

I could rely on the Wood Pigeons and Collared Doves that are nesting in the trees at the end of the garden. Over the garden there was a steady movement of gulls which included several Mediterranean Gulls. Notably absent during the hour were Blue Tits which I normally see with great regularity.   

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David Phillips


Andy Tucker

Location: Beggarwood, Basingstoke. Very wet this morning! I did a walk past Basingstoke golf club and over the M3 into a copse.

Birds: Just 12 this morning, plus 4 heard in the heavy rain.

Highlights: I’ve had my eye on the pond at the bottom of Dummer golf course, and this morning it produced a Grey Heron – the 50th species on my lockdown, on-foot, list.

Dips: Not even my favourite Mistle Thrush on Basingstoke golf course was singing this morning.  Full ‘lockdown on foot’ list stands at 50 with House Martin, Swallow, Green and Great-spotted Woodpeckers and Whitethroat new this week.


Alison Steel

Location: Alton (back garden!)

Birds: 9 + 2 heard

Dips: Blue, Coal & Great Tit, and Dunnock

Mammals: Grey Squirrel

Comments: I did a quick 15-minute list from my window, so this is from residential gardens. It was heavy rain, so not much moving until it lessened a bit!


William and Lizzie Streatfeild

Location: A very wet morning walking down Basingstoke canal past Odiham Castle up to Greywell, along the road and then back through a couple of fields (one arable and one a meadow).

Birds: 15 + 2 heard

Highlights: Despite the weather, we were able to add a new species to our lockdown list: the Little Grebe. 

Dips: Still have not spotted any woodpeckers whilst on a bird race and my husband saw a cuckoo the other day and we can hear them, but I am yet to spot one this year!

Mammals: None apart from our own black Labrador.

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Lizzie and William Streatfeild


21st April 2020

Our lockdown bird race tally is now on 86 species!

Here are this week’s highlights:

  • Rarest bird: It’s a tough call this week, although a ‘reeling’ Grasshopper Warbler is always a special treat, and for Dave Shute this was an unlikely addition onto not only his lockdown list, but Naturetrek’s lockdown list too.
  • Most unusual for habitat: A Mediterranean Gull flying over David Phillips’s patch five miles from their nearest breeding colony.
  • Southern Migrants: A stark increase with new warblers being found (Common Whitethroat and Grasshopper and Sedge Warbler), and of course the arrival of more Barn Swallows, and remarkably, the first Common Swifts were also seen today by Sara Frost and Matt Eade in Alton.
  • Other highlights: The first butterflies (Red Admirals, Orange-tips and Brimstones) were found and Barney Jones running down to his local river just in time to see a kingfisher.
  • Lockdown bird race from abroad: Luca Boscain (a tour leader in Venoto, Italy) joined in today! He totalled 28 species including: Pied Flycatcher, Italian Sparrow & Pygmy Cormorant.


Sara Frost & Matt Eade

Location: woodland NW of Alton, horse paddocks, arable land, industrial estate and pond.

Birds: 33 (our lowest total thus far)

Highlights: Swift(!!), passing Herring Gulls (lockdown tick) & Sparrowhawk

Dips: Green Woodpecker, Firecrest (heard) & Grey Heron

Mammals: Grey Squirrel

Butterflies: Red Admiral

Comments: The moderate NE wind incorporated more migration than previous weeks and was no doubt the result of our first Swift that was spotted battling against this cooling wind. A soaring Red Kite and a brief Sparrowhawk were our first birds-of-prey since starting the lockdown list, and Herring Gulls (all second calendar years birds) again using the wind to their advantage were seen moving over (another lockdown addition).

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Sara Frost and Matt Eade


Kerrie Porteous

Location: Walking out from Milford up to Milford Common (heathland and woodland). I’d recced this new route over the weekend and spent way too long getting there, and then the rest of the time staring into trees not able to find what I was looking for!

Birds: 16 (no visit to the pond to boost my overall total, so less than when I took my toddler!!! Oh dear) plus 2 heard.

Highlights: Three swallows, my first of the year, were the runaway highlight this morning. I also spotted a pheasant and finally managed to ID a gull (gulls really are not my forte, but this was definitely a Black-headed Gull!) to add a total of three new species to my overall lock down list.

Dips: All the birds that I’d found on my recce which would have been new for my list: Skylark, Long-tailed Tit, Jay (why can’t I find a Jay!!!), Goldcrest and Blackcap are all birds that I easily saw (or at least heard) on Sunday and couldn’t track down today. Couldn’t get onto a Chaffinch either.

Mammals: Grey Squirrel

Butterflies: 0

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Milford Common (Kerrie Porteous)


Tom Mabbett (with wife Stella and baby Max)

Location: Edge of Cheltenham. Suburban area, parkland and woodland

Birds: 27

Highlights: Sparrowhawk (2), Grey Heron, Mallard

Dips: Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Dunnock, Starling

Comments: Today we walked the same route but spent less time focussing on the woodland and more time looking at the sky. This tactic worked to produce some new species, but a few easy species missed, and a little less activity generally meant a lower total than previous weeks. We added five new birds to the overall birdrace list with Sparrowhawk, Mallard, Grey Heron, Cormorant and Long-tailed Tit. Our total tally now stands at 42.

Mammals: 1 Grey Squirrel


Dan Lay

Location: Hounsdown, horse paddocks, through mixed woodland to Longdown Dairy Farm

Birds: 24 species

Highlights: A new species which I hadn’t seen on the route this year until today - Pied Wagtail. Eurasian Jay – one of my favourite UK bird species and new to my Tuesday Lockdown Birdrace list.

Dips: A lovely Grey Wagtail I had seen next to a small stream over the weekend, Eurasian Treecreeper, Stock Dove (all seen on the same route this past week and would be new for my list). Common Buzzard continues to be seen on every single day except during the birdrace on Tuesdays! My first hirundine of the year appeared over my house at 0915, long after the race had finished – a single Barn Swallow.

Mammals: Grey Squirrel

Butterflies: 0

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Bluebells (Dan Lay)


Byron Palacios

Location: Islington Woods, 1 mile across Puddletown Forest. Dorchester, Dorset.

Birds: 36 + 3 heard

Highlights: Spotted Flycatcher was a rather great surprise of the morning! Terrific views of nesting Nuthatch and Treecreeper. Also, great sightings of both Goldcrest and Firecrest, alongside Song Thrush, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Linnets, Eurasian Blackcap, Northern Raven, Common Buzzard, Eurasian Jay, Common Chiffchaffs and a very elusive Sparrowhawk... amongst others!

Mammals: 0

Butterflies: 0

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Byron and Gail


Luca Boscain

Location: Monastier di Treviso (Veneto, Italy)

Birds 28

Highlights: Pygmy Cormorant, Pied Flycatcher, Mediterranean Gull

Dips: Barn Swallow, Buzzard, Great Spotted Woodpecker

Lockdown restrictions: I am not permitted to walk more than a very short distance (around 200m) from my garden, so standing in my garden and looking to the sky offered the best chance of success.

Tactic: I watched from my garden looking at every inch of habitat possible including a lot of time looking at the sky for birds migrating overhead. My garden faces the small stream Meolo and is surrounded by the houses of the village. It seemed too early for raptors to be flying, and too late for egrets that often fly over here but I was pleased with some nice species found!

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Pied Flycatcher (Luca Boscain)


Georgie Head (and partner Lewis)

Location: Farnham. Housing estate next to Hospital, riverside and woodland along North Downs Way

Birds: 25

Highlights: Six new species for lockdown birdrace list plus a new mammal; Blackcap, Bullfinch, Canada Goose, Cormorant, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush and Roe Deer. Very quiet in the area around the housing estate, with notable absence of many of the tits and finches usually seen. Things picked up as we neared the woodland with a lovely Song Thrush, juvenile Bullfinches and our first Roe Deer.

Dips: Chaffinch, Nuthatch, Starling

Mammals: Grey Squirrel and Roe Deer

Butterflies: 0

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Georgie and Lewis


Simon Dicks

Location: Bishops Waltham along A32. New route on a footpath adjacent to the road through woodland then back along the main road looking out onto farmland. No time for the pond today though!

Birds: 24 seen and 2 heard

Highlights: Saw species today that I had only heard on my previous outing – Nuthatch, Song thrush, Chiffchaff, Wren and Great Spotted Woodpecker. New for the birdrace was 3 Bullfinch, two male, 1 female; the undoubted highlight!

Mammals: new for my birdrace list – Roe Deer.

Dips: this time compared to last, pheasant (shocker given the farmland around here), Dunnock and Coal Tit and Chaffinch (although that was heard).

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Simon Dicks


Dave Shute

Location: Horse paddocks, arable fields. Old watermill & stream.

Birds: 31 + 4 heard

Highlights: Reeling Grasshopper Warbler, 2 Sedge Warblers, Reed Bunting, Swallow

Dips: No Woodpeckers, or a Greenfinch

Mammals: Grey Squirrel

Butterflies: 0

Comments: A breezy but sunny walk. I was delayed for 10 minutes by the ‘reeling’ of a Grasshopper Warbler which refused to show itself but is a great record for the area. The rest of the hour was a bit rushed but there seemed to be a small arrival of new birds with 2 Sedge Warblers, a singing Whitethroat and a Reed Bunting.


David Phillips

Location: Horndean - Housing estate backing onto a small local heathland reserve (Hazleton Common).

Birds: 25

Highlights: Mediterranean Gull & Greenfinch

Dips: Green Woodpecker

Mammals: Rabbit

Butterflies: 0

Comments: Blue skies made for a very pleasant morning’s birding on my local patch. The birds were certainly vocal but with more leaves on the trees, it’s getting harder to see them.

The highlight for me was a small flock Mediterranean Gull that flew over making their distinctive “ee-ow” call. They breed on the coast about five miles to the south of me and move inland to feed.

I also had a close view of a pair of Jays which are always a delight to see.  


Andy Tucker

Location: Through Beggarwood park over the A30 and out onto Old Down woodland park

Birds: Just 18 this morning plus 2 heard. Nothing new for lockdown list!

Highlights: The sunshine and my regular pair of Bullfinch.

Dips: Still missing Chaffinch, Pied Wagtail, Buzzard, Jay, woodpeckers and gulls for lockdown birdrace list which stands at 32. Full ‘lockdown on foot’ list stands at 42. Still no Barn Swallows, swifts or House Martins over Beggarwood

Mammals: Rabbit

Butterflies: 0

Comments: A very quiet morning bird-wise with a cool breeze.

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Andy Tucker


Barney Jones

Location: Village of Kings Worthy and small section of the River Itchen.

Birds: 15

Highlights: Kingfisher and kestrel

Dips: Chaffinch, gulls

Mammals: 0

Butterflies: 0

Comments: Only 4 new species added to my lockdown list this week, but the long slog down to the Itchen for just 10 minutes was well worth it: a beautiful kingfisher flashing across the river right in front of me, before I had to dash back home. On the way there I spotted a male kestrel perched on a branch soaking up the early morning sunshine, and on the way back went through a small wooded area which was alive with wrens belting out their beautiful songs to each other (and me!). Fantastic stuff.  


Charlie Bridger

Location: Back garden in Selborne village

Highlights: After a poor race last week on Selborne Common (too many other people around perhaps?), I decided to do the birdrace in my garden today! As well as 15 Rooks from the rookery across the road, I enjoyed Nuthatch, Long-tailed Tits, a Coal Tit, an Orange-tip butterfly, five bumblebees and a Wood Mouse.

Birds: 14

Butterflies: Orange-tip & Brimstone

Mammals: 2


Alison Steel

Location: Alton, Hants - Across flood meadows, through the town centre, around the south side of Kings Pond, through residential streets to the cemetery then up the hill to Greenfields lookout.

Birds: 31 + 5 heard

Dips: Still missing most raptors and gulls, Nuthatch, Goldcrest, Skylark & Blackcap that were heard, no woodpeckers or Jays heard today.

Highlights: Calling Little Grebe and Grey Heron at Kings Pond, lots of singing Wrens and Chaffinches, Greenfinches in the cemetery as well as House Sparrows and Starlings collecting nesting material.

Nine new species for lockdown bird race list: Coot, Chiffchaff, Mute Swan, Grey Heron, Little Grebe, Barn Swallow, Greenfinch, Long-tailed Tit, Linnet.

Mammals: Grey Squirrel

Butterflies: 0

Image

Alison Steel


Annie Dale

Location: Residential, village pond, arable farmland and alongside stream.

Birds: 26 disappointing this morning, there didn’t appear to be much about, same species in the majority but fewer of them!

Highlights: Little Egret – been after this one! House Martin and Red Kite. The Red Kite has been elusive for the previous bird race mornings but today we had a beauty sitting in a tree sunning its chest, within less than a minute a Buzzard came along and joined it. Great way to end our count.

Dips: Chiffchaff, Yellowhammer, Greenfinch and surprisingly no pheasants!

Mammals: 4 – Hare, Rabbit, Grey Squirrel and a lovely doe Roe.

Butterflies: 0

Image

Annie and Archie Dale


Lizzie Streatfeild

Location: Greywell Tunnel to Basingstoke Canal (I walked the route I did last week backwards). It was a slow start with only 5 birds in the first half hour, I was slightly concerned with the low number but once I left my first field I started to spot a few more birds, including my first swallow of the season darting across the lane in front of me!

Birds: A personal best of 21 for me on my second bird race!

Highlights: Five new species for my lockdown list: Buzzard, Barn Swallow, Greenfinch, Little Grebe and wren. And two minutes passed eight o'clock (so it doesn't count) a black cap (a first for me) in full song. Hopefully I'll be able to add it to my list next week!

Mammals: 0

Butterflies: 0


14th April 2020

Here are this week's highlights:

  • Rarest Bird: Although the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was once again located by Ops Manager Tom Mabbett, to ensure diversity, this week’s winner is a Jack Snipe seen by Tom Ambrose in Wick, Scotland.
  • Most unusual for habitat: A pair of Mandarin Ducks flying over Paul Stanbury’s garden.
  • Southern Migrants: A slight increase in our summer visitors with additional species being House Martin and Willow Warbler, on top of the now regularly occurring Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs.
  • Other highlights: Finally our first lockdown Sparrowhawk and Scottish specialities such as Hooded Crows, Curlews and Lapwings.


Sara Frost & Matt Eade

Location: Woodland NW of Alton, horse paddocks, arable land, industrial estate and pond.

Birds: 38 (actual total was 40, but 2 were deducted as a penalty for being a few minutes late back!)

Highlights: Little Egrets, Firecrest, Black-headed Gull

Dips: Pied Wagtail, Green Woodpecker & Willow Warbler

Mammals: Grey Squirrel, Roe Deer, Rabbit

Butterflies: 0

Image

Sara Frost and Matt Eade


Tom Mabbett (with wife Stella and baby Max)

Location: Edge of Cheltenham. Suburban area, parkland and woodland.

Birds: 30

Highlights: Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Willow Warbler, Raven

Dips: Chaffinch, Long-tailed Tit, Song Thrush

Mammals: 0

Butterflies: 0

Image

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (Tom Mabbett)


Dan Lay

Location: Hounsdown, horse paddocks, through woodland to Longdown Dairy Farm.

Birds: 24

Highlights: Blackcap, Mistle Thrush, a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers

Dips: Laggard Redwing I was targeting from weekend, any bird of prey, Pied Wagtail

Mammals: Grey Squirrel

Butterflies: 0

Image

Woodland (Dan Lay)


Rhiannon O'Neil

Location: NW Alton/Holybourne and surrounding fields

Birds: 25

Highlights: My personal highlight was hearing the beautiful song of the Skylark and getting a great view of it through my binoculars!

Dips: Woodpeckers, Pheasant, Grey Wagtail

Mammals: 0

Butterflies: 0

Image

Rhiannon O'Neil


Gini Whitlock

Location: Edge of Chandlers Ford. Housing estate, woodland and a pond.

Birds: 10 (4 new ones)

Highlights: Grey Heron

Dips: 0

Mammals: 0

Butterflies: 0

Image

Grey Heron (Gini Whitlock)


Paul Stanbury

Location: Farmland (including ploughed and rough fields), hazel coppice and hedgerows on edge of Greatham looking out towards Selborne.

Birds: 27 (plus 4 heard)

Highlights: Mandarin Ducks over the garden

Dips: Red Kite, Coal Tit, Marsh Tit

Mammals: Roe Deer, Fox and Grey Squirrel

Butterflies: 0

Image

Hampshire countryside (Paul Stanbury)


Dave Shute

Location: Cheriton. Horse paddocks, arable fields. Old watermill & stream.

Birds: 33

Highlights: Bullfinch & Gadwall

Dips: Dunnock, Chiffchaff, Skylark, Song Thrush, Linnet

Mammals: Roe Deer

Butterflies: 0


David Phillips

Location: Horndean - Housing estate backing onto a small local heathland reserve (Hazleton Common).

Birds: 25

Highlights: Sparrowhawk, Skylark and Roe Deer

Dips: Great Spotted Woodpecker

Mammals: Grey Squirrel, Rabbit, Roe Deer

Butterflies: 0

Image

David Phillips


Andy Tucker

Location: Walking out from Beggarwood, past Basingstoke golf course and then over the M3 and alongside Dummer golf course.

Birds: 27 + 3 heard

Highlights: 8 species new for lockdown birdrace list plus a new mammal: Jackdaw, Coal Tit, Marsh Tit, Mistle Thrush, Mallard, Moorhen, Willow Warbler, Goldcrest and Fallow Deer. Staked out the singing Willow Warbler over the weekend on Dummer golf course and in full voice this morning. Red Kite over my house just as I got back!

Dips: Nuthatch heard only and still missing Chaffinch, Pied Wagtail, Buzzard, Jay, woodpeckers and gulls for lockdown birdrace list.

Mammals: Grey Squirrel, Rabbit, Fallow Deer

Butterflies: 0

Image

Andy Tucker


Annie Dale

Location: Farmland, hedgerows & streams.

Birds: 26 

Highlights: Willow Warbler, Kestrel, Treecreeper

Dips: Little Egret, Chiffchaff, Red Kite

Mammals: 0

Butterflies: 0

Image

Annie Dale


Tom Ambrose (and partner Saarah)

Location: Wick, Scotland. Open pasture.

Birds: 26

Highlights: Jack Snipe, Common Redpoll, Curlew

Dips: Raven, Black-headed Gull, Stonechat

Mammals: Rabbit

Butterflies: None

Image

Tom Ambrose


Barney Jones

Location: village of Kings Worthy and surrounding dairy farmland.

Birds: 20

Highlights: First Yellowhammers and House Martins of the year

Dips: Chaffinch, Dunnock, Long-tailed Tit

Mammals: 0

Butterflies: 0

Image

Barney Jones


Lizzie Streatfeild (and 6 year old son William)

Location: Basingstoke Canal to Greywell Tunnel.

Birds: 18

Highlights: Song Thrush

Dips: 0

Mammals: Roe Deer

Butterflies: 0

Image

William's list


Kerrie Porteous (and 3 year old daughter Sophie)

Location: Milford village and pond – the race came to an abrupt end for us here as Sophie was very taken with the tiny ducklings and we were there for over half an hour!

Birds: 17

Highlights: Ducklings (Sophie), Pied Wagtail (me) – the only new addition to my lock down race list!

Dips: The ducks stole the show.

Mammals: 0

Butterflies: 0

Image

Kerrie and Sophie Porteous


8th April 2020

We saw a total of 69 species between us. Here are some highlights:

  • Rarest: Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (Ops Manager Tom Mabbett)
  • Most unusual for habitat: Common Sandpiper on pond at inland industrial estate: Matt Eade (Ops Assistant)
  • Only southern migrants – Blackcap and Chiffchaff
  • Other highlights: two territorial male Firecrests, many Yellowhammers, kingfisher and a Brambling still clinging onto its winter feeding grounds!


Tom Mabbett (with wife Stella and baby Max!)

Location: Edge of Cheltenham. Suburban area, parkland and woodland

Birds: 30

Highlights: Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Peregrine Falcon, Grey Wagtail, Yellowhammer

Dips: Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Green Woodpecker (only heard).

Mammals: Grey Squirrel and Roe Deer

Butterflies: 0

Image

Tom and Max Mabbett


Andy Tucker

Location: Edge of Basingstoke. Housing estate, suburban park (Beggarwood) and out into open arable country over the M3

Birds: 24

Highlights: Chiffchaff, Bullfinch, Blackcap, Red Kite, Skylark

Dips: Chaffinch, Jackdaw, Pied Wagtail

Mammals: Rabbit, Hare, Grey Squirrel

Butterflies: 0

Image

Andy Tucker


Paul Stanbury

Location: Farmland (including ploughed and rough fields), hazel coppice and hedgerows on edge of Greatham, looking out towards Selborne

Birds: 24 (plus 3 heard)

Highlights: Woodlark, Brambling, Yellowhammer and singing Skylarks

Dips: Red Kite, Long-tailed Tit, Goldfinch, Starling, gulls

Mammals: Roe Deer and Grey Squirrel.

Butterflies: 0

Image

Hampshire countryside (Paul Stanbury)


Simon Dicks

Location: Bishops Waltham, along A32 NW of the village. Duck pond, housing estate and arable fields

Birds: 23

Highlights: Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Little Grebe

Dips: Wren, Chiffchaff, Song Thrush, Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker (all heard)

Mammals: Hare and Grey Squirrel

Butterflies: 0

Image

Simon Dicks


David Phillips

Location: Horndean: Housing estate backing onto a small local heathland reserve (Hazleton Common)

Birds: 24

Highlights: Chiffchaff, Bullfinch, Blackcap, Yellowhammer

Dips: Treecreeper and Greater Spotted Woodpecker

Mammals: Grey Squirrel

Butterflies: 0

Image

David Phillips


Sophie Hughes

Location: edge of the South Downs National Park, Swanmore, Hampshire. Garden, country lane and arable land.

Birds: 24

Highlights: Yellowhammers (they’re my favourite!)

Dips: Kestrel and Skylarks

Mammals: Fox, Common Shrew, Rabbit

Butterflies: 0


Dave Shute

Location: Cheriton. Horse paddocks, arable and stream near old watermill.

Birds: 33 (plus 2 heard)

Highlights: Canada Goose (only lockdown tick!)

Dips: Green Woodpecker (foraging field frosted over!), Long-tailed Tit, Starling, Mandarin Duck (seen most days)

Mammals: Brown Hare & Rabbit

Butterflies: 0


Ben Chapple

Location: Wandsworth/Putney. Urban south-west London, from Wandsworth Park along River Thames to Putney Bridge

Birds: 28 species

Highlights: Ring-necked Parakeet, Mandarin, Gadwall

Dips: Cormorant, Chaffinch, Mistle Thrush

Mammals: Grey Squirrel

Butterflies: 0

Image

The Thames (Ben Chapple)


Dan Lay

Location: Hounsdown. Housing, copse woodland and across to Eling Tide Mill

Birds: 26

Highlights: Siskin, Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Song Thrush singing beautifully!

Dips: Eurasian Jay, Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit

Mammals: Grey Squirrel

Butterflies: 0


Matt Eade and Sara Frost

Location: woodland NW of Alton, horse paddocks, arable land, industrial estate and pond.

Birds: 37

Highlights: Kingfisher, Common Sandpiper, Firecrest, Song Thrush

Dips: Pied Wagtail and Great Spotted Woodpecker

Mammals: Grey Squirrel

Butterflies: 0

Image

Matt Eade and Sara Frost


Alison Steel

Location: NW Alton. Flood Meadows green space, Greenfields housing estate, open grass fields above housing estate and edge of Amery Woods.

Birds: 27

Highlights: Yellowhammer, Buzzard, Nuthatch, Blackcap

Dips: Long-tailed Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Skylark, Chiffchaff

Mammals: Grey Squirrel. Butterflies: 0


Georgie Head (and partner Lewis)

Location: Farnham. Housing estate next to Hospital, riverside to Farnham station, woodland along North Downs Way and farmland adjacent to Shepherd and Flock roundabout

Birds: 23

Highlights: Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Little Egret

Dips: Chaffinch, Red Kite, Buzzard

Mammals: Grey Squirrel and Rat

Butterflies: 0

 

Image

Georgie Head (and partner Lewis)


Annie Dale (and husband Bruce)

Location: East of Alton. Residential, village pond, arable farmland and alongside stream

Birds: 32 (excluding one heard – Great Spotted Woodpecker)

Highlights: Goldcrest, Greenfinch, Yellowhammer

Dips: Little Egret, Heron, Red Kite, kingfisher, Great Spotted Woodpecker

Mammals: Hare, Rabbit, Grey Squirrel

Butterflies: 0

Image

Annie Dale


Kerrie Porteous

Location: Milford village: residential streets, Rodborough Common (heathland, woodland and acid grassland) and village farm/duck pond

Birds: 16

Highlights: a bickering pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers!

Dips: all birds of prey

Mammals: 0

Butterflies: 0

Image

Kerrie Porteous

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